Trouble in Paradise

Nadya Bell
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Town residents hope for improved fire service

Residents are calling for improved fire service in Paradise, in the wake of new data that shows it takes more than twice as long to respond to a fire in parts of the town than it does in the capital city.

According to Mike Dwyer, director of St. John's Regional Fire Services, the average response time for calls to Three Island Pond Road and St. Thomas Line in Paradise is just over 12 minutes.

When fire alarms go off in Paradise members of the St. John's Regional Fire Department respond most likely from the Mount Pearl Station shown here. - Photos by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Residents are calling for improved fire service in Paradise, in the wake of new data that shows it takes more than twice as long to respond to a fire in parts of the town than it does in the capital city.

According to Mike Dwyer, director of St. John's Regional Fire Services, the average response time for calls to Three Island Pond Road and St. Thomas Line in Paradise is just over 12 minutes.

In the St. John's area, the average response time is only about five minutes.

The National Fire Protection Association, the organization that develops fire safety codes and standards for Canada and the United States, calls for a four-minute response time to fires, and an eight-minute response time for a second crew, at least 90 per cent of the time.

Marilyn Tucker lives on Three Island Pond Road and would like to see better service provided.

"The response time certainly could be improved, for sure," Tucker says. "With so many new homes up here, services generally need to be improved."

Another resident said with the rapid growth in the area, if there was a serious fire, any response would be hampered by increased traffic.

Dwyer says in the past three years, St. John's has responded to eight calls on Three Island Pond Road and seven on St. Thomas Line.

Residents say the most recent fire on Three Island Pond Road was in a barn last year.

Unlike the towns of Conception Bay South and Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, which have their own fire services, Paradise relies on the St. John's Regional Fire Service. Firefighters union boss Chuck Nurse said that practice should end.

"It's time that a station be put in Paradise, because Paradise is growing by leaps and bounds, and it may very well warrant a station in that community staffed by people on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said.

Paradise Mayor Ralph Wiseman said the town is working on a solution, and will likely have a plan in place by May.

"The response times are not what we want," Wiseman acknowledged. "But we know that we need to do something about it, so what we're doing now is actually exploring some options that may be available."

Wiseman said he hasn't received any specific complaints from homeowners about the fire service, but he's aware it's a concern as Paradise continues to expand.

nbell@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Regional Fire Services, National Fire Protection Association, Fire Service

Geographic location: Paradise, St. John's, Island Pond Road Canada United States Conception Bay South Portugal Cove

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Recent comments

  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    How about a volunteer dept. in Paradise? The same as the other surrounding towns.

  • John
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Do you think a reduction in services is the answer?

    Or that a totally inexperienced group of indivuiduals could provide adequete levels of service to a town the size of Paradise?

  • Greg
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Donny Dooley, NL: Paradise has sidewalks everywhere where I am, but people choose to walk on the street. Those little rises in the sidewalk are just too much effort for those out trying to get so-called exercise. Losers.

    I don't drive on the sidewalk so you shouldn't walk on the street (in some cases traffic has had to stop as only one lane was open due to multiple pedestrians walking side-by-side on the street - and yet, there are sidewalks on both sides of the road).

  • Cath
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Even with a single cowpath leading in/out your community firetrucks can transverse them if people weren't so dumb as to not to pull over to the shoulder of the road. What do they do around the bay ? Non-issue.

  • John
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    There have been some very good points made in the comments on this story.

    As someone who has responded numerous times to Paradise in an emergency vehicle I have always had concerns regarding not only response times due to distance but also traffic congestion.

    To the gentlemen referring to big cities. The difference is that those cities have road systems adequete to the traffic load they carry, Paradise does not.

    As a professional firefighter I would like to the town keep at least the level of fire service it has now with two fire stations of career firefighters and a Aerial able to respond, but the town does badly need a fire station to reduce intitial response times

  • Smartie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Ted M says ...these large cities dont have adequate roads for their traffic...

    You mean all of them ? How many thousands of them ?

    I lived in Toronto for a few decades, and as congested as it was, firetrucks FLEW through the streets because people pulled to the side. If you don't pull out of the way, firetrucks have the legal right to PUSH you out of the way at YOUR cost. Have you ever noticed their pushbars ?

  • Slim Jim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Paradise has roads leading north, south, east and west.

    St. John's has roads leading... let's see... west. Try going east, south or north Ted M.

  • Ted
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Slim Jim from NL
    Well Jimmy old boy, when you live in a city that's on the eastern most tip of the continent, the highways out of the city are tends to go westward. You're a sharp one. Call MENSA, they're expecting you.

  • Donny
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Paradise has no schools, no sidewalks, no business district, no traffic plan, no elevators and no fire station. So, you buy a house there and then complain about the lack of services. Makes sense to me!

  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    I have to say to the thousands who moved to Paradise over the past few years: Did you not check to see if the town had a plan? They never had a plan. I looked out there at houses 2-3 years ago and even then traffic was a problem and there was no plan for how they were going to manage growth. My friends scoffed at me when I gave them my opinion and I laughed at them when they said it only took them 15 minutes to get from Octagon Pond to work in the East End. We compromised on house size/price to stay where there were schools/services and more time for our family instead of spending half the day getting to and from work. Boy, are we ever glad we didn't move there. Stop complaining, you moved out there to get the bigger house for a cheaper price and you have to deal with the consequences.

  • Ted
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Greg from NL...
    I agree with your comments about people walking on the street instead of the side-walk. It's amusing, since these are often the same people who will invariably whine that there's no sidewalk to walk on in the winter; yet they walk on the street when the side-walk is clear.

  • Don
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Oh yeah, one more thing. My house is not for sale. Someone knocked on my door and offered me $280,000 for my house last month (the fourth knock and offer at my door this year). Not bad since I spent $173,000 less than three years ago. Don't be jealous now.

  • jim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Re: Jill comments are accurate. Also it would be irresponsible for the town to approve any more development of subdivisions in the town until the fire protection / traffic issue is dealt with. There is no other option except to put in a staffed fire station in the town. The Town is arse backwards in it's priorities. Safety comes first. They spend a bundle on a nice community centre / town office yet if it caught on fire it would burn to the ground. The town has no plan. They have been planning to talk about it for some time. Read the most recent minutes from the council - looking at ways to improve response times - nonsense. The standards are set for response times. Wiseman says he is not aware of any issues. If he had the integrity to attend the most recent public forum he would have been aware that residents have very real concerns about fire protection. Another example where it takes the media to bring concerns of residents forward.

  • Jim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Don, I'm pleased that the value of your home has increased, as they did everywhere. Problem is that if you sold the home and had to buy another you would get kicked in the arse on the purchase side. Are you not concerned that the town is not providing you with adequate services like fire protection?

  • Jill
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    It took me fifteen minutes yesterday to turn onto Topsail road, and that was going with traffic. As I sat there through the third red light with drivers refusing to leave a space at the end of my street for cars to get in and out, I wondered just what would happen in an emergency situation.

    Paradise needs its own firebstation, but the traffic situation also needs to be addressed for emergency reasons. Forget new subdivisions, take care of the current residents.

  • Walter
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Dave, while you have a valid suggestion i would suggest you go and ask each of the surrounding depts about the troubles and issues they struggle with. recruitment, retention of members, response times, dealing with the constant unknown of who if any will respond.

  • Don
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Schools, traffic congestion, recreational requirements, commuting time to work are not factors for me without children. I work non-standard hours, traffic congestion/commuting time (basically the same thing) doesn't enter the equation, no need for playgrounds/schools (noise pollution). All old houses in St. John's with stagnant values (poor investment) combined with the above ensured St. John's did not even make the short list for me (not to mention the fog - the weather is usually better out our way).

  • John
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Mike from Paradise, you make some excellent observations. The time is fast approaching when the Paradise council are going to have to make a number of decisions that should have been planned for years ago. The result may be that they cannot physically deal with them. The time is fast approaching when the regionalization that has already taken place in so many cities across this country may have to occur here.

    If not some of these super-towns may wind up actually paying higher taxes then those in St. John's, and still not receive the same services.

    This is a life safety issue, both for the public and our members. I pray someone does not have to pay the ultimate price in order to get this issue dealt with.

  • Mike
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Some of the comments seem to have gotten off track but some do make valid points. Some are just ill informed - particularly from those who dont even live in Paradise. Housing costs are comparable to other municipalities; we do have sidewalks, a school and when houses were built 10 or 15 years ago lots were much bigger and there was much more green space. And does it really matter if the town has an elevator?

    The story was about the need for improved fire service. Quick response times are problematic because of the distance fire trucks have to travel. Poor planning by the council, especially with respect to roads and the resulting traffic problems has exasperated the problem. Theres no question that Paradise needs its own fire station.

    But this poor planning cant be blamed of the citizens of the town. Yes, we elect the mayor and council, but over the past number of years they have done as they pleased and its been development after development usually high-density subdivisions - without considering the consequences of the rapid growth. Council has also turned a deaf ear to an increasing number of protests from citizens of the town.

    On CBC Radio today, the mayor stated that the town would have a four-lane highway from St. Thomas Line out to the Paradise Road. Great, but that should have been constructed before the massive development. Its like putting the cart before the horse. Heres an idea: build the infrastructure first which includes water and sewer, then build homes and businesses - but at a much slower pace. Think before you act.

    The mayor also stated the overpass needed to be fixed (replaced) to accommodate the expansion. Hello? Replace the overpass? It comes under provincial jurisdiction. The town cant expect the province to ante up millions of dollars. Another example of the poor planning. Unfortunately, it may be too late to fix the mess.

    As much as we need a new fire station, we need a new council even more.

  • Ted
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Jill from Paradise wrote...
    Paradise is a traffic-infested inferno...

    +++++++++++++++

    What a joke! Try driving in a city with a few million people like NY, Toronto, or Los Angeles.

    Furthermore, these people choose to live in an obviously growing community with only a couple of exits roads. What did they expect?

    Finally, it's amusing to hearing the hypocrisy of people complaining about development in Paradise. They didn't complain about development when their own houses were being built in Paradise. Paradise is the price you pay when you too cheap to buy in town, or, want a $300k house for a $200k price tag.

  • Ted
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    John IAFF Member from St. John's, Newfoundland wrote...

    To the gentlemen referring to big cities. The difference is that those cities have road systems adequete to the traffic load they carry, Paradise does not.
    =========
    Actually John, these large cities dont have adequate roads for their traffic. Which is why traffic snarls go on for kilometers and which was the entire point of my comment. Which is clearly lost on you by the way. Furthermore, anyone with a grain and seriously contemplating living there, would recognize that Paradise only has a couple of roads leading in / out. Therefore, there will bottlenecks when commuting. This is not rocket science.

  • Ms Paradise
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Thats just great! Im living in A traffic congested inferno. Paradise is A fantastic place to live from the outside. but the traffic is A state to say the least. And now that I see this about the fire station situtation gives me one more thing to think about.So now we dont have proper roads, schools, fire safety, just to name three important basics.mmmm would make me rethink moving here, If I hadent already.

  • Firelake-Joe
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Donney D has a point...
    I moved my family to the St. John's area 10 years ago. Our decision on where to live and buy a house depended on many things - including, availability of services, proximity to schools, traffic congestion, recreational requirements, commuting time to work, and so on. In the end, Paradise/CBS didn't even make the short list.

  • John
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    A fire can go from a small fire to a large one in 10-12 minutes and that response time could be doubled in a winter storm. It's time that Paradise had its own station or maybe even 2 stations.

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    How about a volunteer dept. in Paradise? The same as the other surrounding towns.

  • John
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    Do you think a reduction in services is the answer?

    Or that a totally inexperienced group of indivuiduals could provide adequete levels of service to a town the size of Paradise?

  • Greg
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    Donny Dooley, NL: Paradise has sidewalks everywhere where I am, but people choose to walk on the street. Those little rises in the sidewalk are just too much effort for those out trying to get so-called exercise. Losers.

    I don't drive on the sidewalk so you shouldn't walk on the street (in some cases traffic has had to stop as only one lane was open due to multiple pedestrians walking side-by-side on the street - and yet, there are sidewalks on both sides of the road).

  • Cath
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Even with a single cowpath leading in/out your community firetrucks can transverse them if people weren't so dumb as to not to pull over to the shoulder of the road. What do they do around the bay ? Non-issue.

  • John
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    There have been some very good points made in the comments on this story.

    As someone who has responded numerous times to Paradise in an emergency vehicle I have always had concerns regarding not only response times due to distance but also traffic congestion.

    To the gentlemen referring to big cities. The difference is that those cities have road systems adequete to the traffic load they carry, Paradise does not.

    As a professional firefighter I would like to the town keep at least the level of fire service it has now with two fire stations of career firefighters and a Aerial able to respond, but the town does badly need a fire station to reduce intitial response times

  • Smartie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Ted M says ...these large cities dont have adequate roads for their traffic...

    You mean all of them ? How many thousands of them ?

    I lived in Toronto for a few decades, and as congested as it was, firetrucks FLEW through the streets because people pulled to the side. If you don't pull out of the way, firetrucks have the legal right to PUSH you out of the way at YOUR cost. Have you ever noticed their pushbars ?

  • Slim Jim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    Paradise has roads leading north, south, east and west.

    St. John's has roads leading... let's see... west. Try going east, south or north Ted M.

  • Ted
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Slim Jim from NL
    Well Jimmy old boy, when you live in a city that's on the eastern most tip of the continent, the highways out of the city are tends to go westward. You're a sharp one. Call MENSA, they're expecting you.

  • Donny
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    Paradise has no schools, no sidewalks, no business district, no traffic plan, no elevators and no fire station. So, you buy a house there and then complain about the lack of services. Makes sense to me!

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    I have to say to the thousands who moved to Paradise over the past few years: Did you not check to see if the town had a plan? They never had a plan. I looked out there at houses 2-3 years ago and even then traffic was a problem and there was no plan for how they were going to manage growth. My friends scoffed at me when I gave them my opinion and I laughed at them when they said it only took them 15 minutes to get from Octagon Pond to work in the East End. We compromised on house size/price to stay where there were schools/services and more time for our family instead of spending half the day getting to and from work. Boy, are we ever glad we didn't move there. Stop complaining, you moved out there to get the bigger house for a cheaper price and you have to deal with the consequences.

  • Ted
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Greg from NL...
    I agree with your comments about people walking on the street instead of the side-walk. It's amusing, since these are often the same people who will invariably whine that there's no sidewalk to walk on in the winter; yet they walk on the street when the side-walk is clear.

  • Don
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    Oh yeah, one more thing. My house is not for sale. Someone knocked on my door and offered me $280,000 for my house last month (the fourth knock and offer at my door this year). Not bad since I spent $173,000 less than three years ago. Don't be jealous now.

  • jim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    Re: Jill comments are accurate. Also it would be irresponsible for the town to approve any more development of subdivisions in the town until the fire protection / traffic issue is dealt with. There is no other option except to put in a staffed fire station in the town. The Town is arse backwards in it's priorities. Safety comes first. They spend a bundle on a nice community centre / town office yet if it caught on fire it would burn to the ground. The town has no plan. They have been planning to talk about it for some time. Read the most recent minutes from the council - looking at ways to improve response times - nonsense. The standards are set for response times. Wiseman says he is not aware of any issues. If he had the integrity to attend the most recent public forum he would have been aware that residents have very real concerns about fire protection. Another example where it takes the media to bring concerns of residents forward.

  • Jim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    Don, I'm pleased that the value of your home has increased, as they did everywhere. Problem is that if you sold the home and had to buy another you would get kicked in the arse on the purchase side. Are you not concerned that the town is not providing you with adequate services like fire protection?

  • Jill
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    It took me fifteen minutes yesterday to turn onto Topsail road, and that was going with traffic. As I sat there through the third red light with drivers refusing to leave a space at the end of my street for cars to get in and out, I wondered just what would happen in an emergency situation.

    Paradise needs its own firebstation, but the traffic situation also needs to be addressed for emergency reasons. Forget new subdivisions, take care of the current residents.

  • Walter
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    Dave, while you have a valid suggestion i would suggest you go and ask each of the surrounding depts about the troubles and issues they struggle with. recruitment, retention of members, response times, dealing with the constant unknown of who if any will respond.

  • Don
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Schools, traffic congestion, recreational requirements, commuting time to work are not factors for me without children. I work non-standard hours, traffic congestion/commuting time (basically the same thing) doesn't enter the equation, no need for playgrounds/schools (noise pollution). All old houses in St. John's with stagnant values (poor investment) combined with the above ensured St. John's did not even make the short list for me (not to mention the fog - the weather is usually better out our way).

  • John
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    Mike from Paradise, you make some excellent observations. The time is fast approaching when the Paradise council are going to have to make a number of decisions that should have been planned for years ago. The result may be that they cannot physically deal with them. The time is fast approaching when the regionalization that has already taken place in so many cities across this country may have to occur here.

    If not some of these super-towns may wind up actually paying higher taxes then those in St. John's, and still not receive the same services.

    This is a life safety issue, both for the public and our members. I pray someone does not have to pay the ultimate price in order to get this issue dealt with.

  • Mike
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    Some of the comments seem to have gotten off track but some do make valid points. Some are just ill informed - particularly from those who dont even live in Paradise. Housing costs are comparable to other municipalities; we do have sidewalks, a school and when houses were built 10 or 15 years ago lots were much bigger and there was much more green space. And does it really matter if the town has an elevator?

    The story was about the need for improved fire service. Quick response times are problematic because of the distance fire trucks have to travel. Poor planning by the council, especially with respect to roads and the resulting traffic problems has exasperated the problem. Theres no question that Paradise needs its own fire station.

    But this poor planning cant be blamed of the citizens of the town. Yes, we elect the mayor and council, but over the past number of years they have done as they pleased and its been development after development usually high-density subdivisions - without considering the consequences of the rapid growth. Council has also turned a deaf ear to an increasing number of protests from citizens of the town.

    On CBC Radio today, the mayor stated that the town would have a four-lane highway from St. Thomas Line out to the Paradise Road. Great, but that should have been constructed before the massive development. Its like putting the cart before the horse. Heres an idea: build the infrastructure first which includes water and sewer, then build homes and businesses - but at a much slower pace. Think before you act.

    The mayor also stated the overpass needed to be fixed (replaced) to accommodate the expansion. Hello? Replace the overpass? It comes under provincial jurisdiction. The town cant expect the province to ante up millions of dollars. Another example of the poor planning. Unfortunately, it may be too late to fix the mess.

    As much as we need a new fire station, we need a new council even more.

  • Ted
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Jill from Paradise wrote...
    Paradise is a traffic-infested inferno...

    +++++++++++++++

    What a joke! Try driving in a city with a few million people like NY, Toronto, or Los Angeles.

    Furthermore, these people choose to live in an obviously growing community with only a couple of exits roads. What did they expect?

    Finally, it's amusing to hearing the hypocrisy of people complaining about development in Paradise. They didn't complain about development when their own houses were being built in Paradise. Paradise is the price you pay when you too cheap to buy in town, or, want a $300k house for a $200k price tag.

  • Ted
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    John IAFF Member from St. John's, Newfoundland wrote...

    To the gentlemen referring to big cities. The difference is that those cities have road systems adequete to the traffic load they carry, Paradise does not.
    =========
    Actually John, these large cities dont have adequate roads for their traffic. Which is why traffic snarls go on for kilometers and which was the entire point of my comment. Which is clearly lost on you by the way. Furthermore, anyone with a grain and seriously contemplating living there, would recognize that Paradise only has a couple of roads leading in / out. Therefore, there will bottlenecks when commuting. This is not rocket science.

  • Ms Paradise
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Thats just great! Im living in A traffic congested inferno. Paradise is A fantastic place to live from the outside. but the traffic is A state to say the least. And now that I see this about the fire station situtation gives me one more thing to think about.So now we dont have proper roads, schools, fire safety, just to name three important basics.mmmm would make me rethink moving here, If I hadent already.

  • Firelake-Joe
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    Donney D has a point...
    I moved my family to the St. John's area 10 years ago. Our decision on where to live and buy a house depended on many things - including, availability of services, proximity to schools, traffic congestion, recreational requirements, commuting time to work, and so on. In the end, Paradise/CBS didn't even make the short list.

  • John
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    A fire can go from a small fire to a large one in 10-12 minutes and that response time could be doubled in a winter storm. It's time that Paradise had its own station or maybe even 2 stations.