Brooke-Alvinston considers one department with new administrative chief
The fire departments in Inwood and Alvinston could soon be one department.
It’s one of the ideas Brooke-Alvinston council is talking about in the wake of a report by the Ontario Fire Marshal. At the Jan. 12 council meeting, councillors discussed the idea of a merger of the Alvinston and Inwood departments but maintain two stations. Council is also exploring the possibility of hiring a new Fire Chief to oversee the blended service. That person would hire the administrative work for the departments.
Council asked the Ontario Fire Marshal to look at the two departments. Investigators spent a week talking to local firefighters, politicians and citizens last summer. The OFM’s report gave 27 recommendations – many of them problems with administrative issues including not filing reports according to the OFM’s guidelines.
Council formed a fire committee which has yet to meet formally, but council discussed the matter Jan. 12.
“I think we have to move ahead on this,” Coun. Jeannette Douglas told council of the discussion about the fire chief. “This is the direction it’s going.”
Coun. Ken Alderman agrees. “We’ve talked and talked about this, it’s time to move on,” he says.
It’s hoped nearby municipalities will share the cost of the salaried part-time position if a deal can be worked out. In addition to supervision and budgets, the chief would coordinate fire inspections and health and safety programs.
The review of the departments is causing a lot of questions.
Council gave no firm answers when asked by Alvinston Fire Chief Ron McCabe about liability issues.
“This is a big deal,” the 25-year veteran volunteer says. “We have to look at if for the health of both departments.
Mayor Don McGugan and McCabe both agree a multitude of details have to be ironed out before the final merger and before a new chief can be hired.
“I just hope we get the right person,” Councillor Jim Hayter, himself a 45-year volunteer with the Alvinston fire department. “It’s going to be a big change.”
According to Brooke-Alvinston clerk-administrator Janet Denkers, Southwest Middlesex currently has a part-time fire chief.
Council has authorized Denkers to gather more information from other fire departments. Dawn-Euphemia and Enniskillen Township will be formally approached about sharing the new chief’s duties, as well as the cost.