If South Dundas council wishes to expand its fire services, they have to be prepared for the very large price tag that goes along with increased service levels.
South Dundas Fire Chief Chris McDonough presented a report to council at the February 5 council meeting outlining the services South Dundas does and does not provide, not to suggest any changes, but simply to make council aware of the costs associated with different types of services.
“Currently South Dundas does not respond to medical calls under a Tiered Response Agreement at the County level,” said McDonough in the report. They are involved with motor vehicle extrication/rescue calls, but not medical-only calls.
In 2012, these medical-related calls cost South Dundas about $15,000, but if they were to start attending medical-only calls, that cost would increase dramatically.
According to McDonough’s report the cost would be at least $79,000 annually.
“I think we are fairly well served. Our average (medical) response time is about 14 minutes, the second best in the counties of the six townships served,” commented South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds.
“Medical responses could be a major cost to us and a major drain on our emergency services,” commented Councillor Jim Graham.
“It would be a big responsibility for us,” agreed McDonough. “But, it would also deplete our resources, we just won’t have the manpower,” he added, explaining that the high volume of calls being handled by a volunteer force could be too much to ask of them and of their employers.
Council is willing to explore the possibility of providing high angle/low angle rope and confined space rescue, although it too has a significant price tag attached.
The additional equipment and training would cost about $50,000 according to McDonough’s report.
However, a recent donation of some equipment and this municipality’s large agricultural base have concil giving it some consideration. With far more on site grain storage than ever, the potential for an emergency situation exists. “We have some of the grain extrication equipment. It’s difficult to have it and just leave it sitting in the shed,” commented Byvelds.
He asked McDonough to provide a plan and report for council’s consideration. McDonough suggested the possibility of a joint services team, and will research the possibility.