DND fire services threatened at Magazine Hill

WATCH: There are growing concerns the Department of National Defence is considering reducing or eliminating fire services at the CFB Ammunition depot in Bedford. The two MP’s new democrat Peter Stoffer and liberal Geoff Regan held a joint news conference with firefighters. Global’s Ray Bradshaw was there.

BEDFORD, NS – There are growing concerns that the Department of National Defence is considering reducing or eliminating fire services at the CFB Ammunition Depot in Bedford.

Two MP’s, New Democrat Peter Stoffer and Liberal Geoff Regan held a joint news conference with firefighters at Magazine Hill on Thursday.

The CFB Ammunition Depot still stores ammunition for the military, as it did during the busy days of the World War II. A fire service has been there to provide quick protection should any fire occur, but MP Peter Stoffer says there are indications that the Harper government could soon cut fire services.

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“The Federal government, through the Department of National Defence is either contemplating or discussing or thinking about the possible reduction of the elimination of fire services here at CFB Ammunition Depot here in Bedford,” said Stoffer.

Liberal MP Geoff Regan also wants the fire service to be retained.

“I look forward and hope to see a decision from this government, changing this position and making sure these people will be staying on the job,” said Regan.

Twenty fire fighters work at the site with five of them on shift at all times.

Platoon Chief Chris Wagner was among the fire fighters at the meeting.

“I’d just like everyone to know that we, like our city counterparts, train every day to be efficient and respond quickly to any type of emergency that may arise,” said Wagner.

“Especially ammunition emergencies here at CFAD, and it’s very important for us to be there because many of the ammunitions have less than ten minutes response time to pull out of a fire. Our local counterparts are not trained to respond to those hazards, nor will they receive that training.”

Jim Gates, the President of Local 268, Halifax Professional Firefighters backs Wagner’s claims.

“We don’t have the resources, nor do we have the personnel, the training, or the ability to respond into a facility such as the Magazine in a timely manner,” said Gates.

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60 years ago this month, a jetty fire at Magazine Hill sparked an explosion in ammunition that was off-loaded from ships returning from the war. There were no serious injuries and damage was minor, compared to the 1917 Halifax Explosion. But there are fears it could happen again. Wagner says the base has recently reduced grass cutting on the site.

“So the inherent risk of a forest fire with an unexploded ordinance is a very large risk that we face every day,” said Wagner.

The boundaries of the facility are next to the Eaglewood Subdivision where many homes exceed the million-dollar value.

“I think the people that live nearby would naturally be concerned, if they felt there’s a chance of the fire service being reduced,” said Regan who lives in the area.