|Today's date: Monday May 20, 2013||Vol 46 Issue 20|
We Cover The County...
Additional Puslinch fire station proposed to serve west end of municipality
by Mike Robinson
ABERFOYLEA proposal for a second fire station is not on the backburner, but council does want additional time to mull the idea over.
Deputy fire chief Steve Goode presented a report and recommendation from the Puslinch fFire and rescue committee about a satellite fire station.
Goode said training officer Josh Shepard assisted him in creating the presentation.
“We presented this to the fire committee on April 12 and received full support for the satellite station proposal, with the clarification of one issue,” he said.
Goode said the department was looking for council’s support - “non-financial support [for 2012].”
He also hoped the facts he presented that night would show the need for the satellite fire station.
“It is a good idea to put a station out by the lake - the west end of the township,” Goode said.
He hoped the report would be able to demonstrate to council the proposal would in fact, result in improved service to residents.
Specifically, Goode referred to the time it takes fire personnel to reach the scene of a call.
He also anticipated substantial savings to residents living inside the Cambridge contract area.
Goode said the satellite station would operate in conjunction with the Aberfoyle station - which is situated next to the township office.
First, Goode took time to explain the municipality’s current three-year contract with the City of Cambridge.
Goode explained that costs include 100% of the total per capita costs for fire protection in the City of Cambridge based on population.
In 2011, that cost was set at $90,895 while for 2012 it is projected to be $104,620.
The 13% increase has raised concern, Goode said.
“I personally cannot explain the increase - and I’m not going to make any guesses. But that is a substantial increase.”
Mayor Dennis Lever said that the contract costs are based on the cost of fire protection for Cambridge residents.
Goode agreed that those rates are fair.
Until now, the township’s coverage radius from the Aberfoyle station did not extend to the western portions of the municipality, because of the time required to respond.
Goode pointed out the eight kilometre radius from the Aberfoyle station which are used in its rural water accreditation for the department.
Much of the western portion of the township lies outside that area.
If a satellite station ias established, Goode suggested residents in that area could obtain insurance savings.
He said Cambridge currently does not have rural water accreditation - but there are different savings since it is a full time fire department.
With a satellite station, Goode anticipates local fire coverage for all of Puslinch - with the exception of Arkell - which is served through an agreement with the Guelph Fire Department. Goode also cited various aspects of the Cambridge contract.
He suggested if council chooses not to support a new fire hall, then it should consider extending the contract with Cambridge to provide more coverage north of Highway 401.
He used the example of the area near Puslinch Lake - included in the Cambridge contract.
While it might take firefighters from Aberfoyle 17.5 minutes to reach the scene. Cambridge firefighters could likely be there in 8.75 minutes.
He said several firefighters currently live near the lake and are within a 6.5 minute response time.
“It is no longer acceptable for us to take 17.5 minutes to respond to an incident,” Goode said.
On the financial side, he said the financial figures are based on two per cent growth in costs.
That would result in the Cambridge contract increasing to $107,100 in 2013 to serve 470 residences.
If a new Cambridge contract extended that service to an additional 163 residences, Goode said it would come with a $30,000 price tag.
He said the cost for the Cambridge contract is roughly $245 per household.
Based on his estimate of the contract costs versus a satellite fire hall, Goode estimated a five-year payback.
Goode said that would include construction of a new fire hall and the hiring of four firefighters.
The preliminary cost for that satellite fire hall would be $951,100.
“We decided on a 20-year amortized loan at 3.8%.”
He noted that Erin has taken a similar approach with the rebuilding of its Hillsburgh station.
At that rate, Goode estimated payments of $68,000 per year to pay off such a loan.
The operating budget of the station would be roughly $78,400.
The impact to Puslinch residents outside the current contract area would be $43.56, but the savings to those within the current Cambridge contract area would be a savings of $201.91 for the first year.
Over a 20 year period the non-contract and current contract area would both see savings.
The new station would include:
- relocated pumper, tanker and motor boat;
- two bays;
- unisex washroom with shower;
- officer office;
- bunker gear room;
- dispatch room, furnace room with storage; and
- 15 bunker gear racks.
Goode said one thing that would need to addressed is that it would be an additional property owned by the municipality.
He said that currently, residents in the contract area are paying for the contract and for Puslinch fire service
“A lot of them are unaware they are paying for two fire departments,” he said.
He added that all the residents of Puslinch deserve the same level of service and response times, and no one should have to pay extra for that service.
Councillors appeared generally supportive of the idea.
Councillor Susan Fielding said response times have been an issue as long as she has served on council.
She said even though existing equipment would be divided, there would still be the equipment needed to respond to emergencies from either station.
However, some councillors wanted a chance to crunch the numbers for themselves before fully endorsing the idea.
Councillor Ken Roth pointed out, “We cannot be all things to all people in a rural community.” “If we try to provide the same services as the city, our taxes would be so high that no one could afford to live here.”
Mayor Dennis Lever had questions on the math and wanted a chance to look over the proposal.
“It is obviously an issue that needs to be addressed and we need the best way to do it.”
Council’s motion was to accept the recommendation that a satellite station is suggested to serve the west end of the township.
April 27, 2012
The Wellington Advertiser
© All materials copyright The Wellington Advertiser, 2006-. Photographs and text found here may not be used for any purpose whatsoever without express permission. If you need something, please ask. Your feedback is welcome. Please direct comments, questions or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org