Fire prevention education and an emergency medical response team needed before new station in Inwood says consultant

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A consultant’s report says while the people of Inwood may want a fire hall in their community, it’s not necessary.

But Firehouse 33 Consulting is recommending Brooke-Alvinston set up an Emergency Medical Responder team made up of firefighters and auxiliary members from Inwood to stabilize patients during medical emergencies or accidents.

In May 2019, sixteen Inwood firefighters resigned from the department as Inwood and Alvinston merged into Brooke-Fire Service. They were upset with the amount of training which would have to be done.

In 2019, the municipality had to renegotiate a lease agreement with the Inwood Firemen’s Association for the local hall. That didn’t happen and all of the equipment was moved out of the community as the calendar rolled over to 2020.

Recently, council set aside $200,000 to add a fire building to the Inwood Library and then hired a consulting firm to take a look at the organization of the department.

The report says over the last year, Brooke Fire Rescue, based out of Alvinston, has answered all the calls for service in the community within the 14 minute standard set out by the province.

“When a majority of the firefighters from the former Inwood Fire Department resigned the disappearance of a local fire department may have seemed to occur. .. While it may have occurred visually, the result is that the Municipality of Brooke-Alvinston now has a stronger and ready to respond fire department with Brooke Fire Rescue,” say the consultants in their draft report to council which was made public Thursday.

Statistics cited by the consultant showed that by 2018, Alvinston was handling about 80 per cent of the calls for service in the community.

After the resignation of the Inwood firefighters, Brooke Fire Rescue would have between 10 and 26 people answer calls for service.

The consultants say to keep the communities safe, more public education on fire prevention is needed first, not another building. They say it takes an average of three minutes for a home to become fully ingulfed in flames now because modern building materials are highly flammable.

“Residents must not depend on the fire service to rescue them, they must have their own plan on how to escape from fire conditions and how to mitigate a fire from starting.
There is a strong inclination to have a fire department presence in the Inwood area and that desire cannot not be diminished…The issue is how to maintain that presence in a manner that serves the area residents and is both cost effective and efficient.”

The report says the municipality should create a fire prevention public education team and focus its work first on Inwood.

It also suggests an Emergency Medical Responder Team, made up of Inwood firefighters and auxiliary firefighters to respond to accidents and medical emergencies to stabilize patients in the former Inwood department’s area.

The consults suggest recruiting more firefighters from Inwood – as many as 12 in the next five years.

And it wants defibrillator machines outside public buildings so they can be used anytime.

Firehouse 33 says those four things could be done by September.

Then, the consultants say, the municipality should start saving for a new fire station “if and when development and growth occur to substantiate a fire station.

“The construction of a fire station takes considerable planning and research. A fire station must according to the Ontario Building Code, be built to post disaster requirements. It must as well contain the necessary amenities such as showers and washrooms to ensure that cross contamination does not occur, storage facilities for bunker gear, engineered exhaust systems, automatic garage doors and at minimum a small office space.

“The position of the fire station on the property must be established so that there is sufficient space for the largest fire apparatus to be parked safely outdoors and to ensure that it may cautiously exit onto the roadway. The property should also contain sufficient parking for firefighters responding.”

Council had planned what some had described as a “lean-to” on the library, without many of the requirements recommended by the consultants.

Municipal councillors accepted the draft report but didn’t take immediate action. They are expecting a full report July 15 and will hold an open meeting about the report. It is likely it will take place over video conferencing.