Town responsible for firefighting liabilities

Frank Gale
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PORT AU PORT EAST  A meeting is scheduled to see if a resolution can be found between the Port au Port East council and the town’s firefighters.

“I’d be speaking out of turn if I said anything now before a meeting with council on Thursday night,” said fire chief Bill Abbott, who will represent the fire department at the meeting.

 “I’ll have something to say on Friday.”

Last month Coun. Michael McCann, the town’s deputy fire chief, requested separate ballots for councillors and mayor in the upcoming municipal election. After that request was denied, a meeting was held and the majority of the 17 firefighters decided to close down the fire hall in support of McCann.

While the fire department in Port au Port East is not operating, firefighting liability lies with the town itself and the current mutual aid agreement with Kippens and Stephenville is deemed to be an acceptable level of service.

According to Fire and Emergency Services Newfoundland and Labrador, under the legislation a municipality has to provide fire service for its residents or tell the residents it is not providing it and that would be done through public notice.

Recruiting firefighters is the town’s responsibility but the fire chief also has a lot of legislative authority. If a town is looking to form a new fire department, it usually starts by bringing on a chief and the chief would normally start recruitment.

There is nothing from a legislation perspective that says someone is responsible for recruitment. It’s the town’s responsibility to maintain a fire department, which would include recruitment.

In some towns the fire chief is given a budget and he or she takes the responsibility of purchasing equipment and other things, like getting training done.

The question of how a town council controls the fire department is also dependent on different factors.

In some cases the fire chief is responsible for the operation of the fire department, including accounting for the budget and keeping track of training logs and so on but in other cases a municipality would do it.

Some fire departments are completely autonomous from the municipality while others are completely run by the municipality, but when it comes to the legislative authority a fire department is an arm of council.

The legislation rests with the municipality, which owns the fire department, and the department is considered a town asset.



Organizations: Port au Port East council, Fire and Emergency Services Newfoundland and Labrador

Geographic location: Port au Port East

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