A burning question

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Barb Sweet
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Future unclear for fire station in Paradise

The St. John's Regional Fire Department hasn't changed the size of its ranks or the number of its vehicles since it was formed in the early 1990s, but director Mike Dwyer is confident it can handle its jurisdiction.

That jurisdiction includes the Town of Paradise, where recent fires have fueled citizens' ire over not having a fire station.

The St. John's Regional Fire Department hasn't changed the size of its ranks or the number of its vehicles since it was formed in the early 1990s, but director Mike Dwyer is confident it can handle its jurisdiction.

That jurisdiction includes the Town of Paradise, where recent fires have fueled citizens' ire over not having a fire station.

It took firefighters more than 20 minutes to get to a fire in Paradise early June 19, leaving nothing more than a charred foundation, with two burned-out cars sitting in what appeared to be the remains of a garage.

The issue was a political football just before the last municipal election, when a fire razed a home under construction on Keystone Avenue.

The decision to place a fire station is up to Paradise.

Dwyer won't comment on Paradise's lack of a station, but said he's comfortable with response times in metro.

"Right now the development is within the boundaries," Dwyer said.

"When looking at response times ... we're comparable with other jurisdictions our size."

The fire department is run by a board controlled by St. John's and Mount Pearl councils. And Paradise, like others buys a service.

Paradise and Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove contract full fire and emergency service from the St. John's department, which also provides partial services to four other towns.

Much the same as when the St. John's Regional Fire Department was formed in the early 1990s, it has about 13 vehicles spread across seven stations and a roster of 250, which includes administration, 911, fire prevention and Goulds volunteers.

What has changed is population of the metro area, which hovers around 140,000.

And the biggest gains have been in Paradise - which had a population of about 8,000 in the 1996 census, and nearly 13,000 in 2006, four years ago.

The construction in Paradise remains flat out. St. John's has also expanded off Kenmount Road and Stavanger Drive.

St. John's Regional, which also operates 911, has a high angle helicopter and cold water, hazardous materials, confined space entry and other specialized units, may not have changed its numbers, but the quality and age of the equipment and training has changed radically, Dwyer said.

Central has a brand new station, others like Brookfield and Kent's Pond have been refurbished. There's a new training tower at Kenmount Road and the West End Station is slated to be replaced.

"The infrastructure we got now is in good shape," said Dwyer, as he speaks with pride of the various vehicles in the fleet and those that operate them.

"The regional board, being the City of St. Johns and Mount Pear,l have taken the time, effort and money to make sure that's after happening ... Any sort of expansion, that's for somebody else to determine."

Currently, Paradise pays about $550,000 a year for fire services to St. John's. If it were to go with a staffed and equipped fire station, it would cost $3 million the first year and about $2.25 million annually after that.

The primary response station for Paradise now is Mount Pearl, with backup if needed from others.

Paradise Mayor Ralph Wiseman said the town is awaiting word on a request made by the Town of Conception Bay South to study fire services between those two towns and Holyrood. This week C.B.S. activated its new 24-hour a day seven-days a week full-time fire department.

The Rovers Search and Rescue are also slated to construct a building in Paradise in which a fire station could be housed.

But he said there's no decision on when Paradise will get a station.

"I want to make it very clear. There's been no decision here by council on St. John's Regional or C.B.S.," Wiseman said.

Meanwhile, the St. John's Fire Fighters Association, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1075 has been on record as supporting a station for Paradise.

"We have concerns and we have always had concerns with respect to the response times in Paradise, said president Dave Burry, currently stationed in Mount Pearl.

"A fire station in the Town of Paradise would certainly provide better service to the residents who are there and provide us with a safer working environment."

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Organizations: Regional Fire Department, West End Station, Fire Fighters Association International Association

Geographic location: Paradise, St. John's, Mount Pearl Keystone Avenue Kenmount Road Conception Bay South Holyrood

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Recent comments

  • Tim S.
    September 29, 2010 - 11:47

    What I saw last night on NTV news made me sick to my stomach. A mayor, jingling change with his hands in his pockets saying that even he; a man who lives in an area unprotected by town supplied hydrants nor its own fire department has no problem with the fire service in Paradise. Someone so aloof about his own personal safety is one thing, but to disregard the needs of his neighbors and community is a travesty. This in the wake of one of the worst storms in our recorded history makes it all the worse. It would certainly be a tragedy if a neighbor or family were reduced to nothing but the clothes on their back or worse because of a Mayor's lack of foresight. A piece of advice, a true "Wise-Man" carries an umbrella when it's sunny, because any idiot would scramble for one when it pours.

  • gary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    maybe its a case of risk management. the upper management ,manage and the fire fighters take the risk. \it would be interesting to see what rating the IAO would now give with all this expansion. Also interesting to see what parts of the woods gordon report have been implemented. was is implemented in full or only the parts that management wanted? the answer would be very interesting is the director basing his information on his practical experiences in fire fighting? it would be interesting to see what responses you would get from retired experienced fire fighters. i would think that response times for differentcities are based on all things being equal i am not sure you can compare st johns and environs to halifax, ottawa, st john nb , lethbridge alberta, or abbotsford bc Its not rocket science or a degree is not necessary to know that if a station were located in paradise the response times and service provided to the citizens of paradise would improve.

  • Chris
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Paradise residents want and need adequate fire protection which includes faster response times. The St. Johns Fire Fighters Association supports the idea of a full time station for Paradise.

    On June 21 Wiseman said, '' 'They (council) are in the process of putting up a building and, as I said, we'll put into that building a first response fire department.' ''

    He went on to say '' 'the squad is still 18 to 24 months from realization, and it would be fully equipped with its own pumper and will be a full-paid fire department, 24/7.' ''

    Today, he's quoted as saying that no decision has been made on when Paradise will get a fire station. It appears that Wiseman is talking out of both sides of his mouth. Again.

  • John
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Is it logical to have a region with as much growth as we have seen here to have the same amount of firefighters and stations as they had nearly 20 years ago?

  • gary
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    maybe its a case of risk management. the upper management ,manage and the fire fighters take the risk. \it would be interesting to see what rating the IAO would now give with all this expansion. Also interesting to see what parts of the woods gordon report have been implemented. was is implemented in full or only the parts that management wanted? the answer would be very interesting is the director basing his information on his practical experiences in fire fighting? it would be interesting to see what responses you would get from retired experienced fire fighters. i would think that response times for differentcities are based on all things being equal i am not sure you can compare st johns and environs to halifax, ottawa, st john nb , lethbridge alberta, or abbotsford bc Its not rocket science or a degree is not necessary to know that if a station were located in paradise the response times and service provided to the citizens of paradise would improve.

  • Chris
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Paradise residents want and need adequate fire protection which includes faster response times. The St. Johns Fire Fighters Association supports the idea of a full time station for Paradise.

    On June 21 Wiseman said, '' 'They (council) are in the process of putting up a building and, as I said, we'll put into that building a first response fire department.' ''

    He went on to say '' 'the squad is still 18 to 24 months from realization, and it would be fully equipped with its own pumper and will be a full-paid fire department, 24/7.' ''

    Today, he's quoted as saying that no decision has been made on when Paradise will get a fire station. It appears that Wiseman is talking out of both sides of his mouth. Again.

  • John
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    Is it logical to have a region with as much growth as we have seen here to have the same amount of firefighters and stations as they had nearly 20 years ago?