Wool­wich reaches fire cov­er­age deal with Water­loo

Last year’s in­ci­dent on Coun­try Squire Road prompts au­to­matic aid ar­range­ment for prop­er­ties along bor­der

The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE - STEVE KANNON

A NEAR-FA­TAL FIRE A year ago is the ba­sis of a new aid agree­ment be­tween Wool­wich and the Water­loo Fire De­part­ment ap­proved this week by town­ship coun­cil.

Un­der the deal, the city will pro­vide cov­er­age to some 270 town­ship prop­er­ties that are closer to Water­loo fire sta­tions than to Wool­wich sta­tions. City fire­fight­ers will re­spond only to con­firmed struc­ture fires, with the town­ship pay­ing a flat fee of $1,000 per in­ci­dent.

Based on the last five years, there would be one or two ap­pli­ca­ble calls each year, Wool­wich fire chief Dale Martin told coun­cil­lors meet­ing Apr. 11.

The au­to­matic aid ar­range­ment stems from a fire last April at 440 Coun­try Squire Rd. in which a woman suf­fered near-fa­tal in­juries be­fore be­ing res­cued by Wool­wich fire­fight­ers. Con­estogo fire­fight­ers ar­rived on the scene nine and a half min­utes af­ter the call on Apr. 7, 2016, joined a minute later by crews from St. Ja­cobs. Upon en­ter­ing the home, they found and res­cued the vic­tim. Still, there was some crit­i­cism of Wool­wich for fail­ing to

have an aid deal with the city, which has a fire hall just min­utes away from the clus­ter of homes right on the bor­der.

As there was no agree­ment with the city at the time, the Water­loo sta­tion was not dis­patched, nor was there a re­quest for cov­er­age, said Martin.

Coun. Mur­ray Martin noted of the Coun­try Squire in­ci­dent that even if the Water­loo fire­fight­ers had re­sponded from the nearby sta­tion, they could not have en­tered the struc­ture un­til backup ar­rived from else­where, as there would have been only four city fire­fight­ers. The out­come was un­likely to have changed.

Fol­low­ing that fire, how­ever, Water­loo met with of­fi­cials from the sur­round­ing town­ships – Wool­wich, Welles­ley and Wil­mot – to dis­cuss cov­er­age op­tions.

Mayor Sandy Shantz, who at­tended the meet­ings with Water­loo, said the deal of­fered “rea­son­able” cov­er­age and fi­nan­cial terms.

In re­sponse to Coun. Pa­trick Mer­li­han, chief Martin said the town­ship will have the op­por­tu­nity to re­coup some of the costs from in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, just as it does with col­li­sions in­volv­ing ve­hi­cles from out­side Wool­wich.

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