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Town council wants better oversight over their fire department

Posted on November 24, 2022 by Vauxhall Advance

By Ian Croft
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Vauxhall council has begun discussing its fire master plan and the effects of switching to a commission will have on their fire station. During council’s meeting on Nov. 14, Mayor Ray Coad started the discussion while council also chimed in to share their opinion.

“My comments had to do with the commitment we had relative to some of the capital items that they are addressing in their plan,” said Coad. “That’s probably my biggest concern because we are not in a position to afford some of the stuff that they are trying to do — not that I disagree with what they are trying to do — but I think there are some questions that need to be answered with respect to first response and ambulance commitments. While ambulance does not fall under fire department anymore, it still has an implication on the operations and perhaps that can be reviewed through other channels.”

“Are you thinking like a lease with AHS is that where you wanted to go?” asked Coun. Margaret Plumtree.

“Well, that’s kind of the direction I was thinking that this would go,” replied Coad. “I think before we discuss that, we need to deal with the master plan and the principles that are contained in it — this will become part of operations. I think most of my concerns can be addressed at a business plan level and that’s where they should be addressed. It’s a lot to digest — it’s a big document.”

“Without having the presentation as well, we cannot ask all the same questions that the M.D. was able to ask,” added Plumtree, before going into their comments about the master plan.“My notes are that the cost needs to align with the municipalities needs, so M.D. versus Vauxhall for training, repairs, and maintenance. I know that you’re saying that this could be part of the agreement, but because it is mentioned in here quite a bit, I think we have to address it. That’s one of the things that we have here right now when it comes to the recreational facility — they give us recreational money to operate, but we don’t get any money for repair.”

Plumtree continued to outline her concerns, primarily about Vauxhall getting a bad deal when it comes to the amount of spending they would have to do.

“Whereas when it comes to the fire authority it’s divided with the purchases a lot of the times, but when it comes to the repairs and maintenance, whether it’s a piece of equipment utilized in Vauxhall or not, we still have to pay for the repairs and maintenance — that’s 50/50 on that. I think discussions on that are needed going forward because if the cost keeps going up, Vauxhall will eventually not be able to afford to have a fire department. When we first had the fire department before the M.D. took it over, it was $50,000 to run it. How many years has that been —10 years maybe and now it’s?”

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