News Local

Extrication removed from mutual aid

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Petawawa Fire Chief Steve Knott

Petawawa Fire Chief Steve Knott

Heavy vehicle extrication will be removed from the Renfrew County Mutual Aid program.

In December, the Renfrew County Fire Chiefs Association voted to take the reciprocal agreement from the mutual aid plan, Petawawa Fire Chief Steve Knott told the protective services committee recently.

When the agreement was first drafted over three decades ago, only five municipal departments had the heavy extrication capability to respond to serious motor vehicle accidents. That number has changed to 11 with another municipality soon coming on line with the so-called ‘Jaws of Life’ equipment and training.

Knott said the association agreed that, with escalating expenses and each municipality’s attempts to recover costs, it is evident that services cannot continue to be provided free of charge to neighbouring municipalities.

“We’ve provided the service for close to 35 years at zero cost to our neighbouring municipalities,” said Knott. “However, the cost of training is certainly going up, the cost of fuel is going up and the cost of maintenance is going up. We’re not going to be making much money from this but at least we will recoup some costs.”

Municipalities will have to determine whether they will protect their own roads, leave their catchment areas without heavy extrication coverage, or sign a fire services agreement with their neighbours.

Deputy Mayor Tom Mohns asked if this change in policy will clarify service boundaries and clear up where the department will be dispatched. On several emergency calls in the past few years, the CFB Petawawa Fire Department has responded due to the communications centre calling out both departments.

“It will be up to council where we will go and what equipment we will offer up,” said Knott.

The association is recommending municipalities adopt standard agreements with those neighbours they will assist. Those agreements will include an administration fee of $1,000. Minimum response for called- out personnel and apparatus will cost a total of $500.

Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

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