Fire pro­tec­tion in jeop­ardy

Bay Roberts threat­en­ing to cut loose Port de Grave and Bare­need if fees are not paid

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

Res­i­dents in the com­mu­ni­ties of Bare­need and Port de Grave could be with­out fire pro­tec­tion ser­vices in 2013 if they do not pay their fees.

The two Con­cep­tion Bay North com­mu­ni­ties re­ceive fire pro­tec­tion from the neigh­bour­ing Bay Roberts Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment.

Town of­fi­cials with Bay Roberts have in­di­cated that about 45 per cent of res­i­dents have paid the $50 yearly fee.

Of the $42,814.50 that the town in­voiced the res­i­dents of Bare­need and Port de Grave at the be­gin­ning of the 2012, there is still $23,529.50 in out­stand­ing fees that are now in ar­rears.

Due to this, the town will not be is­su­ing any fur­ther no­tices or in­voices for 2012, ac­cord­ing to Mayor Philip Wood.

“Any­time, we send a bevy of bills out it costs be­tween $300 and $500 ini­tially to send out the bill,” he said.

Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood

The mo­tion passed in the coun­cil meet­ing last week was at the rec­om­men­da­tion of the fi­nance com­mit­tee.

In ad­di­tion to the re­sources be­ing used to send out the in­voices, there are “con­sid­er­able” re­sources be­ing spent on staff out col­lect­ing fees.

“It’s cost­ing the res­i­dents of Bay Roberts ev­ery time ( fire) trucks have to go down there,” said Wood.

The mayor said there is usu­ally a min­i­mum two or three trucks that go with ev­ery call.

Wood stressed that this push for fees and the pos­si­ble re­trac­tion of ser­vices had noth­ing to do with any re­quest from the fire depart­ment.

“We don’t mind do­ing it, but in re­turn we need the fees paid up,” he said.

Boat own­ers are not much bet­ter than the house own­ers when it comes to pay­ing fees.

The town col­lects roughly 60 per cent of fees from ves­sel own­ers.

Money for depart­ment

Some might won­der where the money be­ing col­lected goes.

“This isn’t town rev­enue,” said Wood.

It does not go into the town’s cof­fers, but back into the fire depart­ment.

When the res­cue van was pur­chased in 2008, a part of the pay­ment came from money taken from col­lec­tions, ac­cord­ing to the mayor.

How­ever, at that time, Bay Roberts ex­tended fire pro­tec­tion ser­vices to Clarke’s Beach and area, as well as Port de Grave and Bare­need.

Since the in­cep­tion of the Bay de Grave Fire Depart­ment, there has not been a need for Bay Roberts to ex­tend ser­vices to Clarke’s Beach and area.

Fire chief Clarence Rus­sell was in at­ten­dance at the June 12 coun­cil meet­ing.

He said he agreed with the de­ci­sion to give no­tice of ter­mi­na­tion of ser­vices, but ques­tioned whether the town

“It’s cost­ing the res­i­dents of Bay Roberts ev­ery time trucks have to go down

there.” — Philip Wood

should “set up a meet­ing with boat own­ers

Rus­sell in­di­cated trips to fight fires could be­come costly should a piece of equip­ment be lost dur­ing the course of fight­ing a fire.

“A hose costs $200 a length,” said the chief.

Wood said it isn’t fair to the town’s vol­un­teers.

“They’re giv­ing up their work and there’s a barter sys­tem for that,” he said. “This goes to­wards im­prov­ing fire ser­vices.” Res­i­dents view Her­man Porter is a res­i­dent of Port de Grave and also serves as the trea­surer with the Port de Grave Waste Dis­posal Com­mit­tee.

He said Bay Roberts has ev­ery right to pull its ser­vices if the fees are not be­ing paid.

“I agree with that. I don’t like it, but what can we do?” said Porter. “If peo­ple aren’t willing to pay for a ser­vice, I don’t see why Bay Roberts should have to pay for us.”

One thing peo­ple don’t see, ac­cord­ing to Porter, is the fact with­out fire pro­tec­tion, their in­sur­ance rates would in­crease. In fact, there is the pos­si­bil­ity that in­sur­ance costs could dou­ble.

He said one op­tion go­ing for­ward for th e res­i­dents would be t o ap­proach the Bay de Grave Fire Depart­ment for ser­vices should Bay Roberts pull out of the com­mu­nity.

Porter had doubts that it would work be­cause “if they don’t want to pay one, they aren’t go­ing to pay an­other.

“I don’t known what in the devil the an­swer is,” he said.

Porter said the $50 per year for the ser­vice is “peanuts.”

“In all hon­esty, I re­ally can’t blame them for cut­ting the ser­vice off,” he said. “We’ve had boat fires, house fires and a fish plant fire down here, and still peo­ple will not un­der­stand that the fire depart­ment is only ask­ing for a min­i­mal fee.”

Wood said that although there are res­i­dents of both com­mu­ni­ties who pay the fees, the town would base the pro­vi­sion of fire pro­tec­tion in 2012 on the over­all col­lec­tion rate for 2012.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Com­pass file photo

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