Second time in as many weeks Fire Department not dispatched

letter to the editor

SaultOnline has received the following letters from Richard Bishop, president of the Sault Ste. Marie Professional Firefighters Association Local 529 voicing his concerns regarding not one, but two instances in the past few weeks where the Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services were not dispatched to serious accidents which required extrication. At the time of publishing, Mr. Bishop states he has yet to receive a response from either the Mayor or Fire Chief.


2nd Letter: Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Dear Mayor and Council,

I regret to inform you we have had another serious accident February 5th, at the corner of Allen Side Road and Second Line that occupants needed to be extricated from the vehicle. A family member of the occupants involved in the accident called one of our Firefighters and was livid as to why a fire truck never responded to the scene. The firefighter had to let the caller know that we were never dispatched.

It turns out a Board of Works plow operator broke the windshield to help them out of the vehicle, and as much as I appreciate the act of a good Samaritan,  this could have been a very critical mistake for everyone involved. For one, when we arrive at motor vehicle collisions and people need to be removed, we stabilize the vehicle, this is done because a 1/4 inch of movement on the C-spine of an injured patient can mean paralysis.

This is the second accident in two weeks with delays in our response, and I am yet to get any kind of response from you or the Fire Chief. We are highly trained professionals at the ready with specialized equipment for emergencies such as this, so why is our service not being dispatched to car accidents?

Richard Bishop
Sault Ste. Marie Professional Firefighters
Association Local 529


1st Letter: Thursday, February 2nd, 2017


On Friday January 27th, there was a motor vehicle accident at the corner of Conmee and Carmen’s Way involving a tractor trailer and a passenger car. The result of the accident was serious injuries to some passengers in the car, and a need for immediate medical attention.

Paramedics were called to the scene and it was 8 minutes later that Fire services were dispatched. This resulted in a delay in transporting a 10 year old child with life threatening injuries to the hospital.

I realize you and council set the level of service, so I would expect you would have a solution for the betterment of the community.

This could have easily been avoided and was unfair to the family involved. I would expect an investigation into the reasons behind the delay and if required a change in policy to expedite the dispatch of fire services. I believe this legal and moral obligation falls on you as Chief.

I appreciate your immediate attention to this matter.

Richard Bishop
Sault Ste. Marie Professional Firefighters
Association Local 529


  1. So. So far NO comment or news brief from the Fire Chief or Mayor on this recent issue. NO comment from the CAO. Are they too busy too give us answers. People involved in these accidents want to know what’s going on and you are letting them down again. Their families want answers and still no comment. Answer the questions.
    The Mayor said a while back that he was going to intervene and get the two sides( management and Union) talking. So. So far we haven’t heard a thing whether the two sides are talking. Was this just more lip service to tell the public he was doing something? Is this all just more smoke and mirrors and ignoring the issues? Do City Council, the CAO, the Mayor and the Fire Chief think that if they keep ignoring the issues they will go away?
    The public wants to know that we have services that will arrive when called and be the proper services to provide help. Council said that the Fire side of Fire Services is still the same. It doesn’t not appear that way to me. It appears that our service has been reduced and they aren’t letting us know.
    Please Mr Mayor. Let’s hear your wisdom. The OFM found a reason to be here, the MOL found a reason to step in, people are asking questions and our City Council has their feet dug so deep in the sand on this issue that they told us from the start was a working and fluid plan. Get off your high horse and start talking to the people who elected you. Answer the questions that have been put to you.

  2. Can everyone stop beating around the bush. Who is not caring about lives of our children and family members. This should not be about money but lives. I have a lot of loves ones in Sault Ste. Marie and want to know they are will have be looked after. If someone does not care whoever the idiot is get him out.

  3. Well said, Rodney. With the population of the Sault dwindling even further, does this silly union think money is magically going to reappear so that there is a fire station beside every gas station and Tim Horton’s fueling their greedy little union pension plan. Grow up already, and quit the fear-mongering. The reality is, you live in a dying town in northern Ontario spread out over a large distance. Services/response times/daycare/snow plowing…EVERYTHING is going to get cut back.

    • Burn-E. Good to see you are still alive and kicking. And it’s not even a City Council night. It is apparent however that you still haven’t learned to read. The story here is not about greedy pensions, more fire stations, or fear mongering. The facts here are that the proper emergency services were not dispatched to the circumstances that required them. The Fire Chief is in control of Fire and EMS. The Fire Chief and Mayor should be quite concerned that the right people are being sent to the incidents that they are needed at in a timely manner. You wouldn’t send an ambulance to a house fire with people trapped and then wait 10 minutes to send firefighters?
      The Union has asked the Chief and the Mayor to look into these incidents, as lives were in danger here and our citizens deserve to know that the proper services are going to arrive when they are in trouble.
      The babble you are spitting out has nothing to do with what has happened. If I was running an emergency service I would certainly want to know what reasons there were for the delay, or non request of response.
      Ignoring this type of thing is a neglect of duty, when it is not addressed or corrected.
      As a citizen of Sault Ste Marie I want to know that help is coming when I’m in trouble.
      You have a nice day Burn-E.

      • Sorry I haven’t been as prolific as you, SafeCity. I have a real job and am busy raising my family to be productive members of society. But I do get to listen to City Council night argue about important things like road-side advertising crises…scary stuff…the SafeCity brigade should run for Council instead…doubt that it would halt the population decline paying for City services…

        • I guess you also have the day off today as I do. And you sound like a stand up guy raising your family responsibly. I didn’t mean to offend you with the reading comment. I merely meant your comments were not anywhere close to matching the story.
          As far as running for Council, you never know. The next election will definitely bring out a lot of new people who are interested in making this city better instead of trashing all of our city services, cutting out little bits and pieces of our community, and then spending huge money, in a dire time, on the ivory tower on the river.
          The more this Council cuts, the more the population will decline. We still need emergency services however. Police, EMS and Fire. And we need them when trouble occurs, and we need them in a proper response time frame.
          Enjoy your day off.

    • So they are asking to be dispatched at the same time to mvc’s Bernie. To help and be of assistance.

      Where is the fear mongering? Where is the request for the extra fire halls and money?

      It sounds to me that they are just asking to help out and be of assistance when these occur.


  4. Council, the mayor and the chief continue to say they are open for communication between the union and management. Smoke and mirrors. Hey John, the chief lives in Iron Bridge, do you think he really cares what happens in the Sault? One head cannot hold all wisdom. Its time to do what is best for the Sault and stop listening to just one person’s radical ideas.

  5. Wow. Seems to me this Chief has a moral deficiency. To not even respond to TWO very important letters addressing issues that could mean life or death to someone in a collision. (especially a 10 year old in a car hit by a damn transport!) is unacceptable. Until something happens to the people in power they apparently don’t care. I hate to see the karma waiting for ya.

  6. Hey John, you must be a member of council or the fire chief. If you Knew that a member of your family was in that accident would you not want all available resources to respond? I saw an accident on Queen st at Simpson yesterday and again no fire truck. These trucks are able to block traffic and provide resources if needed. Why wouldn’t you send a fire truck? Why wouldn’t you send the airboat to a known plane crash on the St Marys river even after RCC Trenton issuing a distress signal. This doesn’t sound right. Since this new so called chief started, there has been nothing but chaos. Our council member don’t care about the taxpayer. Daycare, portable signs, new civic centre facelift and the fire department are some of the issues that are not being dealt with in a responsible manner. Guess what council, election is next year. Chances are the chief will be gone before then because he won’t want to stick around to find out what the risk assessment says. Which of course is the only time council has ever done anything without implementing one. Mmmm strange.

  7. So sick of this fire union and their constant whining. Fear mongering and grandstanding on an almost daily basis. Is it the union that runs this city, or the mayor, council and the fire chief?

    • Can you enlighten us all, Rodney, on how you would run this city? At the present time our Mayor, Council and Fire Chief are only ruining our services. Fire, daycare, bussing, snowplowing, fountain, etc all gone for a dump but let’s decorate the club house. Keep on shovelling behind the crap this council continues to deliver. It’s not only snow out there.

      • I have to agree with Rodney. Enough is enough with this fire union whining. I’m sick of it. The population is in decline, the tax base is dwindling and the fire dept expects to remain status quo? Everyone I speak with now has less respect for the fire dept. They brought it on themselves. I haven’t had a raise in years, the SSM economy is terrible and all I hear is fire dept whining on a regular basis. Enough.

  8. It sounds like both Ted according to the letters. An 8 minute delay in the one call involving the child and not dispatched at all in the second.

    In response to John, yes John if you do some research the Chief is responsible for telling ambulance dispatch what fire will and will not respond to in regards to medical calls and mvc’s (most car accidents go straight to ambulance dispatch who in turn contacts fire if they’re needed). So if there was a delay and a no response as well I would hope he would look into it ASAP.



  9. “I realize you and council set the level of service, so I would expect you would have a solution for the betterment of the community.”
    This level of service referred to, ties the hands of firefighters not even being dispatched. They are trained to extricate people safely, not smashing windows to possibly cause furthur injuries. READ what is being said & is the right way to do things…concern for our cities citizens is not grandstanding! When it becomes one of your family or friends, you’ll understand it & see it in a different light.
    Great job in standing up for what is needed, we pay for far too many things that are not needed in this city!

  10. Ok, so lets be clear here, based on what I am reading, fire services was not dispatched, so the question is, when the 9-1-1 call came in did the police dispatcher take the call, and only send paramedic and police based on the call, or did the central ambulance control centre take the call, and make the determination, or was the call directed to sault ste. Marie fire dispatch and then the department decided not to dispatch a truck? If it is the first two scenarios then how is that the fault of the fire chief, and or city council?

    While I value and respect firefighters and what they do for the community, this grandstanding for every situation needs to stop, and start focusing on quality service with what you have. Unless there is evidence that the fire chief instructed the crew to stand down to a dispatched response then this letter is redundant, and just “stirring the pot” and trying to yet again put fear into the citizens of our community.

    Last week I heard a call where crews were dispatched to a person who was locked out of their house, and a truck was dispatched as a “courtesy call”, so I highly doubt it was the fire chief, or fire dispatch that had any involvement in not dispatching fire to an MVC with injuries and extrication.

    So please, start focusing on making the best of the current situation and stop the fear tactics to the community, as quite frankly its getting old, and in the end I don’t think its going to help your situation.

    • So John. Let’s get this straight. Firefighters shouldn’t ask questions? The Mayor and Fire Chief should ignore these incidents? I would think rather that the Mayor and Chief should be quite concerned as to why Fire wasn’t dispatched immediately in both these situations. Police, Fire and EMS work hand and hand at vehicle collisions and each having a very important role. Yes there are times when fire or EMS aren’t needed but the questions put forward here are quite valid in both incidents. People lives are at stake and in if there is a problem in the system, it should be looked into and repaired. Not ignored. The Fire Chief, at the very least could have emailed Mr Bishop back stating he would look into this serious matter and get back to him. You call it grandstanding? I would maybe think that you have some vested interest or are taking offence to someone questioning a problem with the present methods of dispatching services to traffic collisions. Any caring professional would certainly take this as a concern rather than a criticism and look to fix the problem if it exists.
      The Fire Chief is the person who is supposed to lead both Fire and EMS services and if he has a problem in the way emergencies are being handled he should be looking find out why the appropriate services were not dispatched to provide the proper assistance in a timely manner. Maybe there is a cog in the wheel as far as the dispatching of services on the initial 911 calls (please no offence intended to dispatchers). Would you rather wait for a death to occur and let an inquest sort it out?
      All the Mayor and Fire Chief need to do is look into why there were delays. Simple.

      And I’m not really sure what a fire truck going to a courtesy call to assist a citizen locked out of their home (and it is winter mind you) has anything to do with this article whatsoever.

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