Bradley, Boushy find cost implications of fire plan alarming

Sarnia Fire and Rescue firetruck. October 31, 2018. (BlackburnNews file photo)

Sarnia Fire Rescue Services has presented a Fire Master Plan that calls for additional hiring and new fire stations in the next 10 years.

The document, completed in partnership with Emergency Management and Training Inc, recommends developing a new fire service agreement with Aamjiwnaang First Nation, adding a second deputy fire chief position, creating a chief fire prevention officer and increasing the regular firefighter complement.

It also recommends relocating Station 2 on Churchill Road to the area of Vidal Street South and Clifford Street and a new headquarters, training and response facility built on the far east side of the city, in the London Line and Airport Road area.

Mayor Mike Bradley reacted to the anticipated cost.

“There’s a heck of a lot of money needed to support this plan, and if I understand correctly, we get nothing from the province to deal with all of the things they’ve mandated on us, which is traditional,” said Bradley. “I do support a strong fire department, so I’m not saying the advice isn’t good, but there’s some very heavy costs in this plan in the next five to 10 years.”

Councillor Dave Boushy felt it gave the impression Sarnia residents aren’t well protected.

“We have fire stations all over the city, I mean the city hasn’t grown that much,” said Boushy. “More firemen, an IT person, second deputy… I mean, I don’t agree with all those, but we’ll deal with them when they come back [to council for approval]. You’re going to have a hard time getting my vote for all of these.”

Replacing the Colborne Road fire station is included in the draft capital budget for 2021.

Chief Bryan Van Gaver said increasing the leadership team would help manage workload increases due to provincial requirements and reminded council the ideas are just proposals.

“We’re just giving a brief overview of recommendations in the plan,” said Van Gaver. “That doesn’t mean they’re all, or portions, are being implemented. Moving forward, it will be recommendations from myself working with council and coming up with what’s suitable.”