Dear Editor: The taxpayers of the City of Cornwall are looking at a roughly 8% increase in their property taxes, unless Council makes some decisions otherwise.
The Fire Master Plan is designed to save lives and money. It follows a Guideline from the Ontario Fire Marshal and it’s based on costs the community can afford. According to the FMP (page 13) fire service budgets have almost doubled when compared to the rest of the city budgets.
It recognizes that at the present rate, the Cornwall Fire Service is not financially sustainable (page 13). The FMP (page 1) provides the framework to make strategic decisions regarding the level of fire protection services. In other words, there are 10 fire fighters on duty 24 hours a day, when presently the FMP recommends needing only 8.
The FMP (page 88) states the “Initial Response” of four fire fighters assigned to the primary apparatus at each station, (total of 8) is deemed what’s needed. Under our present system there are times when we have as many as 21 fire fighters that are on duty and able to respond, if needed.
In the event of a “Full Alarm” (working fire) the FMP (page 106) wants us to call off-duty fire fighters and track how long it takes to assemble 14 fire fighters on scene within 8 minutes. Knowing that most (3/4) of our fire fighters don’t even live in Cornwall, this creates a huge problem and the FMP (page 94) allows for enhanced Automatic Aid Agreements in order for Council to deal with it.
The Fire Committee are in the process of looking at staffing levels and they will be making their recommendations known to Council. There are some important strategic decisions that need to be made in order to make our fire service financially sustainable.
Always remember that a working smoke alarm, as part of a home fire safety plan, is the number one thing that will save your life in the event of a fire.
Yours in public safety,
Mark A. MacDonald
Councillor, City of Cornwall