Residents of Beaver Lake are hoping to air their grievances concerning the community’s fire station when they sit down with the city’s fire chief.
A date for that meeting has not yet been confirmed.* The The Beaver Lake Fire Services Committee was hoping to host a public meeting with Greater Sudbury Fire and Paramedic Services Chief Trevor Bain on Sept. 21, but he is unavailable that day.
There have been persistent accusations that volunteer firefighter recruitment is being suppressed — an issue that has come up at city council meetings.
The committee said the complement of volunteer firefighters has been steadily decreasing, from 13 in 2012, to 11 in 2015, to only three today. To respond to a fire, four firefighters are required, the committee said.
“It is a major concern when the Beaver Lake fire truck cannot leave the station unless the next closest, Whitefish Fire Station, is also dispatched,” the committee said in a release. “The Whitefish fire truck is several minutes away, and if they are already out on another call in their own area, the Beaver Lake community is left without effective emergency and fire services.”
Some members of the community believe the city is actively discouraging volunteer firefighters from joining the station, though they’ve offered no concrete reason why the city would do such a thing.
“The reason for the declining numbers isn’t because of a lack of individuals willing to volunteer. There were at least eight volunteer firefighter applications submitted on the last recruitment call for the Beaver Lake Fire Station, but only two were interviewed, and none were selected,” the committee said in the news release.
According to the committee:
- One applicant was not moved forward because he was 12.6 seconds over an arbitrarily timed physical test; and
- Most were rejected because they did not have a current CPR and First Aid certification, even though two applicants became certified shortly after the recruitment date closed.
The committee said it’s looking forward to sitting down with the fire chief to air their concerns and, hopefully, arrive at a solution.
Beaver Lake Fire Station was established more than 40 years ago to provide emergency and fire services to an approximate 20-kilometre stretch along Highway 17 West, from Regional Road 55 in the east, to the westerly limits of Sudbury, at Nairn hill.
*An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated a date had been set. A date has not yet been confirmed.