The Wabush Fire Department will no longer respond to aircraft emergencies at the only airport in Labrador West.

The town says the decision was made because the volunteer firefighters don't have the specialized training required.

Mayor Ron Barron said it's an issue of life and safety.


Wabush Mayor Ron Barron says volunteer firefighters lack the necessary training to respond to calls at the airport in Labrador West. ((CBC))

"As an employer, even though these are volunteers, you know you can't knowingly send personnel into a situation where they're not properly trained or properly equipped," Barron said.

The federal government cut the professional fire department at the airport in 1995 due to declining aircraft traffic.

Barron is pushing Ottawa to reinstate the service. He said the airport is busier now due to the area's economic boom.

"I think it's time that they look at the operations themselves and say, ‘Are we adequately trained, are we adequately equipped?’" Barron said.

"Because guess what, heaven forbid anything happens and you're not. It’s going to come back to haunt you."

Emergency plan update

Transport Canada said it's disappointed by the town's decision.

It said the airport is operating safely, but it will review its emergency plan.

"The Wabush airport emergency response plan calls for on-site airport personnel to respond to emergencies in co-ordination with emergency responders such as police, fire and ambulance services provided from surrounding communities," the federal agency said in a statement.

"As a result of this development, Wabush airport is reviewing and updating its emergency plan as required. The current procedures involve calling 911 for a range of emergencies in order to alert local responding agencies. This procedure remains unchanged."

Transport Canada said the Wabush airport continues to operate in a safe manner, and meets all applicable regulations.