I have lost count at how many articles I have written on the proposed and current cutbacks in the fire services. These stories have been getting members of the city quite upset in the comments related to them. Also I have been personally attacked on my journalistic integrity. That’s fine. People are entitled to their opinion but I have to set things into prospective.
The average age of a firefighter is 63 last time I checked. Actually firefighters have shorter life expectancies than the average population and are three times more likely to die on the job, due to inherent risks, physical and mental stresses, and exposures to toxic and carcinogenic compounds released in smoke.
Regardless of their pay, they, as do police officers, go into situations where they never know the outcome and we have had deaths in the community resulting from exposure to bi-products of combustion.
They are currently going into these fires with too few on a truck and antiquated breathing apparatus; steel bottles and harnesses that are two to three generations old.
There was an incident recently where local firefighters had to contain a fire where there was asbestos. Their breathing apparatus is not going to take that out of the air. Add with it all the new polymers and plastics that are full of neurotoxins, when on fire, and you have a firefighter that is going to have health-related issues down the road.
But let’s go ahead and cut the fire department of a fire hall, two trucks and 20 positions and make their job harder.
They are fighting in 1,100 degree fires. And don’t let the statements of our fire chief fool you. There have been numerous cases of 2 or more fires at one time in this city in the past.
Do we have to lose a home or a life before this has been brought to our attention?
The proposed cut of the fire hall on Tancred Street doesn’t seem to make any sense to me. We have train tracks on both sides of the east, west, north and south firehalls and many high rise buildings downtown.
70 East Street is a 17-story building with elderly and some bed-ridden people. How are we going to fight a blaze at a building so tall when our ladders on our fire trucks are only good for 8 stories? The Tancred hall has this component, maybe not long enough, but it’s still there.
City council has been fooled by numbers. We use our EDF fund to give away money to whomever come who may, and yet cutting fire services seems to be a worthwhile non-investment.
The boat that the fire service had was said to be a liability in the words of the chief because it had two props that turned in the same direction. According to research done, this can’t be further from the truth. So there is another piece of equipment and firefighting capability that has been dumped.
And the fact that we have not had a fire underwriters survey since 1989 is appalling.
You can guarantee that your insurance rates are going to go up when you see the cutbacks that are currently being looked at. And how could they not? Closing a fire hall is what? going to make them go down?
The image of a skeleton crew that got so many of you riled up and starting questioning my abilities was not to show that nobody else was fighting this fire. It was to show that we only sent out 3 people on a truck instead of the NFPA standards of 4. In the past and in other cities they send out 5 or 6 on a truck. There may have been more trucks that arrived to contain the fire but we sent three to start, with one firefighter going in to fight it. That breaks the buddy-system and is scary.
What business, people from the boating community or homeowner is going to want to come to the Sault knowing these are the tactics that our firefighters are forced to go through, directed by administration.
In the absence of defensible fact based research based on the city’s fire risk, NFPA Standards, and a recommendation from the Office of the Fire Marshal, the strategy to reduce fire protection services is unsubstantiated, and has the potential to threaten lives, property, and the environment. Is this the community we want to raise our families in? Is this a community that would attract tourism and new business ventures, given the drastic reduction in fire protection services?