Talks between Yarmouth, surrounding municipalities over fire dispatch break off

Negotiations between the Town of Yarmouth and the surrounding municipalities that use its fire dispatch service have ceased after an agreement on sharing cost could not be reached.

Town previously announced plan to contract out fire dispatch services as a cost-saving measure

The Town of Yarmouth pays 70 per cent of costs associated with fire dispatch services despite sharing the service with 24 volunteer fire departments. (Google Maps)

Negotiations between the Town of Yarmouth and the municipalities that use its fire dispatch service have ended unresolved.

Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood said that they have failed to reach a "fair and equitable" agreement for sharing the cost of the service. She said the town pays 70 per cent of the cost associated with the four dispatchers.

Fire dispatch provided by the town is contracted out to 24 volunteer fire departments in the region. Each department pays $100 per month.

But those fees only cover $28,800 a year out of a total cost of $260,000. Mood said that cost should be distributed among all municipalities using the service and not put on Yarmouth's taxpayers.

Alain Muise, Argyle's chief administrative officer, stated in a press release that users of the service agreed to an increase in funding to "aid the Town in the preservation of this local service."

But the offer was rejected by the town on the grounds the numbers were not "fair and equitable."

Muise said Yarmouth should be bearing the brunt of the cost.

"I believe that those that use the service the most and have control over the delivery of that service probably would be in a situation where they have to pay a premium," he said. "That would be the Town of Yarmouth."

Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood says she is looking for a "fair and equitable" solution to negotiations with municipalities that use Yarmouth's fire dispatch service. (CBC)

Mood's original plan to reduce cost was to put the service up for tender and eventually to lay off the four dispatchers. She has since changed her opinion.

Yarmouth sends letter to fire chiefs

"We're really hoping that we can maintain the service," she said. "The 24 volunteer fire departments … we know they see tremendous value in continuing dispatch as it is.

"We're hoping they will look upon our proposal favourably [so] that we can get back to business as usual."

The Town of Yarmouth sent a letter Thursday morning to the chiefs of all 24 volunteer fire departments offering solutions.

Proposed ideas include dividing dispatch costs by percentage of calls per region. The chiefs have until Sept. 24 to respond.

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About the Author

Jenny Cowley

Jenny is a reporter with CBC Nova Scotia and an investigative journalist in Toronto.