Highlands East’s fire committee will investigate ideas to close down fire halls and build a new central hall as part of its probe into fire services.
The committee decided June 10 on five options it will present for council consideration as part of a fire service delivery review.
Council mandates one of the options be maintaining the status quo but the other options will include reducing from five fire halls to three and shifting equipment for efficiency.
The building of a new, central fire hall makes up the two other options, with one entailing closing other halls and the other being to maintain some of them.
“I’m going to go outside the box,” Station 1 fire chief Wayne Galloway said as he suggested the building of a central fire hall.
Chair Cam McKenzie said the committee will investigate the options and give them to council to decide upon at a later date.
Council mandated the committee provide a minimum of three options.
“This doesn’t mean that’s going to happen,” McKenzie said, referring to an option to downsize from five to three fire halls.
Acting fire chief Chris Baughman proposed cutting the number of halls and said it would amount to having one hall for each of the municipality’s three response areas.
If approved later by council, the option would combine Station 1 in Cardiff with Station 6 in Paudash.
Station 2 in Highland Grove would also combine with Station 4 in Wilberforce.
The committee approved the option on a 4-2 recorded vote, with Station 2 chief Doug Bowen and Station 6 chief Brian Woods voting against it.
Co-chair Mayor Dave Burton, Baughman, Station 3 chief Brian Horner and Station 4 chief Gary Mount voted in favour. McKenzie abstained as committee chair.
“The service we have in our area now, leave it the way it is,” Bowen said.
This option is similar to a recommendation made in the 2010 Peter Corfield Associates and Master Fire Plan Report.
It recommended reducing the number of stations to save costs. Highland Grove residents have raised concerns about the future of their fire hall after the report resurfaced at the fire committee meeting March 11.
Baughman said he would be doing a comparative cost analysis of the various options, including maintaining the status quo.
He is also gathering call data on all the fire halls.
“I have to look at costing of what we have now to maintain it. It has to be adequate for our fire service,” Baughman said.