The dates don’t match up on fire ser­vices re­port

The Western Star - - Editorial -

Dear Edi­tor:

I was re-read­ing the POMAX Re­port with par­tic­u­lar ref­er­ence to the risk pri­or­ity of in­di­vid­ual rec­om­men­da­tions, and no­ticed what I con­sider to be a sig­nif­i­cant dis­crep­ancy be­tween the date on the POMAX re­port pro­vided to the pub­lic, and time­lines spec­i­fied for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the rec­om­men­da­tions. While the date on the re­port posted on the city’s web­site is June 2017, most of the rec­om­men­da­tions in the re­port were slated to be im­ple­mented in the first quar­ter of 2017. It is highly un­likely this re­port would only have been made avail­able by POMAX in June 2017, be­cause POMAX would not be rec­om­mend­ing the coun­cil to go back in time.

The im­pli­ca­tion is the in­for­ma­tion con­tained in the re­port was avail­able to mayor and coun­cil long be­fore the pub­lic saw it and the re­port would have been in the hands of city man­age­ment prior to the first quar­ter — prob­a­bly in the fourth quar­ter of 2016. This sug­gests coun­cil ac­tu­ally knew about the se­ri­ous­ness of those rec­om­men­da­tions iden­ti­fied in the re­port as high-risk pri­or­ity.

Coun­cil would then have had plenty of time in the last year of their man­date to act upon th­ese rec­om­men­da­tions and not just two months prior to the end of their man­date — as has been sug­gested. The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the rec­om­men­da­tions would then have formed part of the work of the bud­get com­mit­tee in the first quar­ter of 2017, and not left to a new coun­cil in 2018. A sit­ting coun­cil would have been much bet­ter placed to deal with th­ese rec­om­men­da­tions es­pe­cially given the fact it is this cur­rent coun­cil that com­mis­sioned the POMAX re­port in the first in­stance.

Al­though the city deter­mines the level of ser­vice, it is clear the des­ig­na­tion of al­most two-thirds of the re­port’s rec­om­men­da­tions as high-risk pri­or­ity in­di­cates a much more se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion with fire ser­vices than ei­ther city man­age­ment or mayor and coun­cil seem will­ing to ac­knowl­edge. If the lev­els of im­por­tance as­cribed to each rec­om­men­da­tion in the re­port were trans­lated in to a let­ter grade, I think we know where the fire ser­vices would stand. This is not a good news story for the city, but what prompted me to reread the re­port was a VOCM news brief posted on July 11. It presents quite a dif­fer­ent pic­ture.

In­deed, VOCM re­ported the fol­low­ing – “over­all, the mayor says it [the POMAX re­port] found that the city is pretty good”. With 26 of the 40 rec­om­men­da­tions des­ig­nated high-risk pri­or­ity in­clud­ing the ar­eas of fire fight­ing ca­pac­ity, equip­ment and re­sponse times, how could any­one, un­less they are in de­nial, ad­vance the no­tion that the sit­u­a­tion with fire ser­vices in this city is “pretty good”?

In an email from Mayor Pen­der to me dated July 11 he states “the full Coun­cil and se­nior man­age­ment team have been fully en­gaged in this study and have ac­tively par­tic­i­pated in the process and post process.” And on the same date Todd Flynn, Di­rec­tor of Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices, in­forms me “the re­port is be­ing stud­ied in depth by Coun­cil­lors and se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion at City Hall.” But what am I to make of th­ese as­sur­ances when Sec­tion 9 Re­sponse — Stan­dards and Staffing Lev­els, and Sec­tion 10 Sta­tion Lo­ca­tion, cry out for im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion? And not only that. If the City had re­ceived the re­port some­time in 2016 as the im­ple­men­ta­tion time­lines clearly in­di­cate, then why would the pub­lic not have been made aware of the crit­i­cal na­ture of many of the rec­om­men­da­tions in the re­port much ear­lier?

If I were liv­ing in an area that could not be reached within the min­i­mum re­sponse time of four min­utes, I would cer­tainly want to know that so that I could have a con­ver­sa­tion with fire ser­vice per­son­nel about what kinds of pre­emp­tive ac­tions I would be able to take to pro­tect my fam­ily and prop­erty while I am wait­ing for the fire crew to at­tend. Since a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the city’s pop­u­la­tion is in that sit­u­a­tion, I can­not un­der­stand why the mayor would re­spond the way he did dur­ing the VOCM in­ter­view — “Mayor Charles Pen­der doubts that the cur­rent Coun­cil will go for build­ing two new fire halls.”

More­over, all res­i­dents should be made aware of the fact that if coun­cil de­cides not to act on the first rec­om­men­da­tion of Sec­tion 9, namely a com­ple­ment of 10 fire­fight­ers on duty, then the res­i­dent is still faced with the prospect of a di­min­ished re­sponse with a com­ple­ment of eight fire­fight­ers as spec­i­fied in the sec­ond rec­om­men­da­tion, be­cause a fire crew of eight would be able to ini­ti­ate fire sup­pres­sion or con­duct search and res­cue, and not both.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the ini­tial com­ments by city of­fi­cials in the past week have been both con­fus­ing and mis­lead­ing. If, as Mayor Pen­der and Todd Flynn claim, Man­age­ment and Coun­cil have been fully en­gaged with the re­port and have stud­ied it in depth, it is hard to in­ter­pret the si­lence of the other six coun­cil­lors or the mayor’s com­ments re­gard­ing the sta­tus of fire ser­vices in Cor­ner Brook.

Aulda Taylor Cor­ner Brook, NL

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.