Despite push back, fire chief steadfast in proposed station closures
HALIFAX – Halifax’s fire chief says he stands by the proposal to close three fire stations in the city, despite petitions against the move.
Calling the debate “very emotional,” Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Chief Doug Trussler said nothing has swayed his argument that the stations should be closed.
“We have done a lot of analysis, and its been verified by numerous lines of evidence, outside consultants studies, internal analysis and GIS mapping,” said Trussler. “I am very confident that we can meet the service level objective set down by council of getting first truck on scene within 5 minutes, 90 per cent of time, and the bulk of the first alarm within 8 minutes, 90 per cent of time, in the downtown core are.”
Halifax’s Committee of the Whole will meet Tuesday morning to debate the merits of Trussler’s December proposal, which includes a comprehensive overview of the fire service that was launched in 2012.
The wide ranging review is the first of its kind since fire departments in the the municipality were amalgamated. The review proposed closing Station 4 on Lady Hammond Road, Station 13 on King St, in Dartmouth, and Station 11 on Patton Rd., in Sackville.
Trussler’s confidence is at odds with many residents, some councillors, and the union. Jim Gates, the president of the Halifax Professional Fire Fighters Association said he doesn’t agree with the department’s analysis of fire station placement in the city.
“The fire service is built on redundancies. We’re of the opinion that the chief’s mapping… is flawed,” said Gates. “It doesn’t take into account that we do multiple responses, it’s just not a single fire engine that goes to a call, there’s typically two fire engines and an aerial truck that go to calls, there’s an awful lot of reliance that all those apparatus are available.”
Residents affected by the proposed closures have launched petitions against the proposal. Councillor Jennifer Watts said she’s been “overwhelmed” by calls from residents worried about the impact of the proposed closure. Watts said she doesn’t want to “move forward” with the closures until more information is given about the impact the closures could have.
But Trussler said the evidence is there. “Its sound analysis, its facts, (council) will make a decision at the end of the day.”
Trussler will be at Committee of the Whole on Tuesday morning to answer questions about the proposal.
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