BROWN’S ARM AND LEWISPORTE, N.L.
The communities of Brown’s Arm and Lewisporte are joining forces to become one regional fire service.
Brown’s Arm and Lewisporte made their new department official on Wednesday evening, Oct. 10. They will be known as Lewisporte Regional Fire Rescue.
While they are coming together as one department, the local service district of Brown’s Arm will still maintain its own fire station, with the signage and identity of Brown’s Arm Fire Station. The station will still have its ranking and membership structure and be able to hold its own fundraisers.
However, the administration of the station will now fall under the regional fire service.
Ken Tucker, chair of Lewisporte council’s protective services committee, says Brown’s Arm will have its own representative on both the town’s protective services committee and directly with Lewisporte Regional Fire Rescue.
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“We will meet regularly on the services committee to discuss administration of the fire department,” Tucker told The Central Voice. “Brown’s Arm will have a voice both on the administrative council level and at the fire department level.”
With the opportunity for added support and resources from Lewisporte’s fire department, and training opportunities the community would otherwise not receive, chairman of the Brown’s Arm local service district Derrick Luff says his community has a lot to gain with this new project.
“We will be much better equipped as a combined department,” said Luff. “With their resources and training it will make our department more efficient; our firefighters definitely feel they will benefit from this system.”
After the proposed project for a regional fire department including a number of communities in the area fell through, Brown’s Arm initially reached out to Lewisporte in hopes of still establishing a regional department, but now on a smaller scale.
A similar regional project is underway between the communities of Campbellton, Birchy Bay, Loon Bay and Comfort Cove-Newstead.
Lewisporte Mayor Betty Clarke says the town is very pleased with the opportunity to regionalize with Brown’s Arm, and would welcome similar opportunities with neighbouring communities like Embree or Little Burnt Bay in the future.
Particularly around liability, Tucker says this regional service also provides major benefits for Lewisporte.
“By having this regional fire department in place, it addresses any issues of liability that we had with sending our firefighters outside the jurisdiction of Lewisporte,” said Tucker. “With these concerns addressed, we’re much more comfortable now.”
Luff agrees that this issue around liability has become a greater concern in recent years.
“Through the year Lewisporte has always been there when we had a major fire,” said Luff. “But in this day and age you need to have some kind of agreement in place if those situations come up.”
With the added support of Brown’s Arm approximately 15 firefighters, Tucker says there may someday be a situation in Lewisporte where that additional manpower will come in hand.
Independence and cooperation
There is still considerable independence with each community, and both Luff and Clarke stress that Brown’s Arm will maintain its identity even after falling under this new jurisdiction.
Brown’s Arm will still be responsible for the costs around operating and maintaining its own station. The residents of Brown’s Arm will still have to pay a service fee for fire protection, currently set at $110 per year, but the funds will now be directed to the Lewisporte Regional Fire Rescue.
According to Tucker, there are no changes in service fees for Lewisporte residents.
Now that the agreement between the communities has been signed and the new Lewisporte Regional Fire Rescue established, the municipal leaders hope it can stand as a strong example as these regional projects become more prominent across Newfoundland and Labrador.
“It supports the spirit of cooperative firefighting and services,” said Tucker. “That’s the way that we’re going in the future. Every community, even Lewisporte, is finding it tougher to recruit volunteers.
“This shows that communities can work together for a common goal.”
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