©Diane Crocker/TC Media
Eddie Joyce, Minister of Fire Services NL, said when people like Peter Fenwick place the blame of lack of fire response in certain areas of the province on government they are setting a double standard.
Using the chair of the Southwest Coast Joint Council’s own words that “many matters are the responsibility of towns, including firefighting,” he said that’s exactly right.
The whole issue came up this week from a fire on Tourout’s Lane in Piccadilly on Monday when the Lourdes Regional Fire Department wouldn’t respond as the particular property was not on their fire protection list and being paid for.
Joyce said Fenwick suggested the province should be forcing people in unincorporated communities to have this service, just as it did for waste disposal fees.
The minister said this is different and it comes down to being the responsibility of the town next door to offer these services, especially since the service is 100 per cent voluntary.
Joyce said it’s up to the people in an unincorporated community if they want fire protection and a neighbouring town’s responsibility to provide it, but it’s all incumbent on the people in those areas.
He said as minister, he and members of his department would have no problem in sitting down with the people in those areas to try to work something out, but there has to be willingness in the unincorporated community to compensate the fire service.
“We (government) cannot order a town to offer fire services without compensation,” Joyce said.
He said this situation is not unique to the Port au Port Peninsula area as there have been similar incidents near Corner Brook and on the east coast of the province where no tax structures are in place.
“Fire departments need compensation to help them out and it has to come from the community,” Joyce said.