The rural community of Hanwell now has improved fire protection, thanks to a new service provider with a new satellite fire hall, according to the mayor.
As of Jan. 2, a fire truck has been stationed at the centre of the residential area in a satellite fire hall set up by the Upper Kingsclear Fire Department in a rented facility at 2050 Route 640, said Mayor Susan Cassidy.
The volunteer fire department has eight firefighters who live in Hanwell and will be able to get to the local fire hall much quicker than driving to the Upper Kingsclear fire hall, she said.
The move comes after Hanwell balked at paying more money to Fredericton for fire protection and turned to the volunteer department in Upper Kingsclear, which is farther away.
Hanwell's fire coverage switched Jan. 1 to the Upper Kingclear Fire Department, which is about 20 kilometres away. The closest fire station in Fredericton is about seven kilometres away from Hanwell.
The decision to switch services for fire protection was made after Hanwell received its bill for 2015 from Fredericton.
The higher rate would have seen Hanwell residents pay seven cents more in taxes for every $100 of the appraised value of their homes, or $140 for a home appraised at $200,000.
Cassidy said that price was too steep to pay without receiving any additional services, with another increase slated for 2016.
Because the situation unfolded very quickly, there was not even time to notify or involve Hanwell residents, she said in a statement issued on Monday.
Murray Crouse, the chief of the Upper Kingclear Fire Department, said his department has covered the southern portion of Hanwell for years.
But he said changes will be required now that they're the sole department covering the community.
"I'm hoping to pick up a few more [firefighters in Hanwell] in the new year — hopefully."
Cassidy acknowledges the change won't sit well with everyone.
"We're trying to make the best decision for the people, but it's not going to be easy to convince everyone," she said.
Officials from the City of Fredericton and the Fredericton Fire Department had no comment other than that the decision was Hanwell's to make.