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Three fire halls still needed: Port Hope council

TED AMSDEN/SPECIAL TO NORTHUMBERLAND TODAY

PORT HOPE - Port Hope Council received a 63-page report from the fire services working group Tuesday evening during a Committee of The Whole council meeting.

Port Hope maintains three fire stations located strategically within the municipality. Port Hope and the Welcome area each have one with the third station located in Garden Hill. Each location is staffed exclusively with volunteer firefighters. At present there are 72 volunteers and 12 probationary firefighters.

The report was the result of over a year of consultation, study and research. Overseen by the Fire Chief C. Ryan Edgar, the group included three district fire chiefs, one volunteer firefighter from each of the three stations, Deputy Mayor Greg Burns plus two citizens.

According to the Burns, the report is "Probably the most comprehensive report from staff."

One of the outstanding aspects of the report, he said, are the details showing all the responses by firefighters from the three stations during a period from 2012 to 2016. The mapping of those details clearly indicate that three stations continue to be necessary, he says.

On a less positive note, the report draws attention to the fact despite a government study eleven years ago pointing out health and safety deficiencies, nothing has changed. The report cites a need to re-design of how firefighters transition from firefighting to their regular activities such going home or back to work. For example, two locations have no showers and drinking water is sourced from the same sinks as equipment is cleaned. As well, there are no separate bathrooms for men and women.

Burns expects that there will be capital and budgetary recommendations going forward coming from council as well as agreement that the number of volunteer firefighters be bumped up to seventy-five.

"From an operational point of view we are going to propose a fire inspector. Which we used to have but we cut that out several years ago. We are going to go back to that because it really has become quite evident that we need that inspection level."

He said the Garden Hill station is "way behind" and needs a substantial overhaul.