Halifax fire stations recommended for closure in new report
Lady Hammond, Patton Road and King Street stations may be closed
The chief of Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency defended an overhaul of the region's fire service at an executive committee meeting on Monday.
The overhaul, which is contained a report, recommends three fire stations in the city's urban core be closed: the Lady Hammond station on Duffus Street in north-end Halifax, the Patton Road station in Lower Sackville and the King Street station in Dartmouth.
Two other stations would be moved to reflect shifting populations.
The Bedford station on Convoy Run would be moved to the area near Larry Uteck Drive and the Lower Sackville station on Metropolitan Boulevard would move to a location on the Bedford Highway.
Four rural stations would close under this master plan. They're all staffed by volunteers. At the moment, there are only five volunteers assigned to all four of these stations.
Chief Doug Trussler presented the details at the meeting, however a motion was passed to listen to the presentation Monday and delay debate on the topic until sometime in the New Year.
"Response times will not be affected," said Trussler. "Fire safety will not be compromised, in fact the fire service will be improved."
But Jim Gates, who heads the Halifax Professional Firefighters, Local 268, the International Association of Firefighters, is opposed to the many of the changes.
Changes 'leave areas of HRM unprotected'
Gates is OK with the relocation of the Bedford station, but said he doesn't think the King Street station in Dartmouth or the one on Lady Hammond Road in Halifax should be shut down.
"Instead of transferring firefighters from those stations to cover two aerial ladder trucks the fire chief should be hiring new firefighters” he said after the meeting.
"This leaves areas of HRM unprotected."
Gates points out that the shipbuilding industry is about to gear up in the Lady Hammond Road area.
The cost of hiring new firefighters to handle two aerial ladder trucks on all shifts would be $4 million. Each aerial ladder truck requires two drivers, with separate steering wheels for the front and rear of the vehicle, for better manoeuvrability.
However, the cost of relocating or constructing new stations in Bedford and Sackville could be between $10 and $14 million.
Gates is also concerned that the closure of the Patton Road station and the relocation of the Metropolitan Boulevard station will increase response times in the Sackville area.
A number of councillors are also worried about the proposed changes, including Brad Johns, who represents Upper Sackville.
"I'm not happy. I would be very surprised, given the broad implications of this report, that it passes," said Johns. "It affects so many parts of the municipality."
The plan recommends spending nearly $10 million to upgrade the technology the department uses — everything from software to training.