No money in budget for Windsor firefighters to rescue people in water

Firefighters in Windsor can't perform ice or water rescues without additional funding, and money for that was rejected in the 2017 city budget.

Windsor crews have to call in other fire services to help with water rescues

LaSalle Fire demonstrates a water rescue

6 years ago
Duration 0:53
LaSalle Fire Service demonstrates a water rescue.

Windsor Fire and Rescue Services won't be able to help with ice and water rescues, after city council rejected a $40,000 funding request.

Currently, Windsor firefighters can only help people from the shore and need to call neighbouring municipalities for assistance if a rescue involves water or ice. 

During city council's 2017 budget meeting Monday, chief Bruce Montone explained that while there is enough funding for training and equipment for ice and water rescues, the department needs additional funds to cover specialty pay firefighters are entitled to if they respond to aquatic emergencies.

The $40,000 request was rejected.

Windsor Fire Chief Bruce Montone (Jason Viau/CBC)

Right now Windsor firefighters cannot go more than three feet into a body of water, Montone said, adding there have been eight water rescue calls in the last two years so there's the potential for danger. 

"In some cases there may be some additional risk ... and that's not something we want to see happen," he said.

Firefighters working in other parts of the region, including LaSalle, are able to perform ice and water rescues, while Windsor crews can only use reaching tools from the shore.

Capt. Mike Mayea of the LaSalle Fire Service demonstrates a water rescue. (Jason Viau/CBC)

After a call for help goes out precious moments pass while Windsor crews wait for firefighters who are able to go out on the water to arrive.

"If it's a life and death situation, the challenge we have is time," said Chief Montone.

Councillor Irek Kusmierczyk voted in favour of the $40,000 funding and is frustrated council as a whole voted against the money, particularly when contrasted with $50,000 spent to increase  the Adventure Bay water park advertising budget.

Councillors Irek Kusmierczyk, Bill Marra, Jo-Anne Gignac, Rino Bortolin during an 11-hour city council budget meeting on Monday, January 23, 2017. (Rob Heydari/CBC)

"To have a situation where Windsor Fire doesn't have a clear mandate to go and rescue someone in the water, to me is absolutely unacceptable," he said.