PALMER RAPIDS – It has been seven months in the making, but the Brudenell-Lyndoch-Raglan Fire Department has come up with six potential solutions to create a sustainable fire service for the township.
In 2013, council instructed the department to set up a planning committee which would set the foundation for a five-year fire services plan.
The plan would address issues like an ageing population, budgetary constraints, less auxiliary firefighter recruits and risks for current firefighters.
On March 27, the planning committee unveiled its options to council at a special meeting held at the Palmer Rapids Community Centre.
More than 75 residents attended the meeting to listen to the options and voice their concerns.
Fire Chief Matt Cruchet began by giving an overview of current fire protection services in the township. BLR is the second largest township in the county and that in itself leads to certain challenges.
But he said he is confident that the five-year plan will provide solutions to challenges like these.
“For the first time, I’m going to have the opportunity to actually set the direction of the fire department,” he said. “Up until now, they have been dealing with whatever comes up and comes along. We never really had a guiding plan to build from.”
Firefighter Mike McCloskey, who is on the planning committee, said in addition to the obvious risks, firefighters are prone to many workplace hazards.
For example, they are more prone to on-the-job heart attacks and getting into vehicle accidents when rushing back and forth for suppression water.
McCloskey said BLR has an aging population and that there is only a small pool of potential volunteer firefighters to draw from.
After outlining the issues that the fire department is experiencing, he presented six potential courses of actions to council.
McCloskey reiterated that these are not plans but simply ideas for council to consider.
Cruchet mentioned that the only option not provided was to stay status-quo, because the department cannot realistically keep running the way it is.
The first option presented was called Zero Capacity, meaning, BLR contracting the fire fighting service out to a different fire department.
“This plan is based on the BLR fire department ceasing its current role of providing front line fire suppression and rescue within the township,” McCloskey said. “The focus of the BLRFD would shift entirely to fire prevention programs.”
Get your April 2, 2014 edition of The Valley Gazette to read this full story.