Halifax Fire controversial recommendations debated at council
Halifax Fire insists King Street shut down is needed to increase staffing to the Highfield station
Halifax Regional Council is debating controversial recommendations by the fire department this morning.
There's now a draft report that says if some of the suggestions aren't adopted — insurance premiums could increase significantly.
The Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service has recommended a number of closures in both rural and urban areas
Coun. Matt Whitman says he's concerned about the station in the Black Point area, which switched to volunteer–only staffing temporarily. There are only two or three active fire volunteers in Black Point so the fire trucks have to come from 25 kilometres away in Tantallon.
"Right now we have the worst possible insurance coverage, which is a 10, and there's something worse than that called uninsurable and mortgages require you to have insurance on your property. So if you're uninsurable, we're going to be in really big trouble in the Black Point, Hubbards area," he said before council.
"[Residents] are afraid that when they give their answers on insurance questionnaires they're not answering truthfully because there's not an active fire station and they don't want to answer those questions fraudulently."
Whitman says he's going to propose an amendment to go back to the staffing model before the summer's changes.
Another proposed closure includes the King Street station in downtown Dartmouth.
Fire officials say the area can be covered by stations in Woodside or the north end of the city.
But Tim Rissesco, the executive director of the downtown Dartmouth Business Commission, opposes the shut down.
"We've done a petition, we've gathered over 400 names opposed to the closure. With the number of new buildings being built, the wood frame structures that make up our downtown storefronts and as well the number of senior citizen complexes — it seems bizarre to close that fire station at this time," he said.
The fire department insists the King Street shut down is needed in order to increase staffing to the Highfield station in north-end Dartmouth and add an aerial truck.
"They may need more resources to adequately serve the growing city. I think having some overlap, which King Street does provide to Pleasant Street and Highfield Park, is good," said Rissesco.
"I don't think with fire services a community would ever want their services stretched. If they need to ramp up a little bit in Highfield Park, we're in favour of that but we'd be opposed to the closure of King Street."
A 600 page draft report by fire underwriters suggests there will be consequences if the improvements aren't made.
Fire underwriters determine the classification of a fire service — and insurance rates are based on those classifications.
If the one for Highfield slips — the study says premiums could increase by $11 million in the area.