LEWISPORTE, NL – If and when area fire departments combine efforts to become a regional fire service, they will form the largest fire department in the province with anywhere from 100-120 members.
Lewisporte Fire Chief Rob Fudge was at the Embree firemen’s banquet on Jan. 20 to update those gathered on the progress to establish a regional fire department.
Fudge said over the next while, regionalization of fire services “is going to happen, it needs to happen in this area.”
Fudge recognizes that fire departments and communities worry about losing their fire hall, a pumper truck or equipment through regionalization. He said they don’t need to worry, and in fact, they will have access to even more equipment and training through neighbouring fire departments.
He said there is also opportunity to apply for government for funding on a regional basis. Fudge noted that $1 million of government funding has already been committed to this initiative, with half of that going towards improved communications systems.
If regionalization goes ahead, seven departments have committed to considering operating on a regional basis. Discussion on this is now in front of councils/local service districts from Lewisporte, Campbellton, Embree, Little Burnt Bay, Loon Bay, Porterville and Brown’s Arm for approval.
Stanhope already pays a fee to Lewisporte Fire Rescue services, meaning they would be included under regionalization. Laurenceton doesn’t have an active fire department so that is something being looked at by their local service district. Fudge said the status of Comfort Cove-Newstead joining a regional fire service is unknown up to this point.
Fudge told those gathered for the dinner and awards that a regional fire department is a big undertaking for volunteer firefighters. He said someone will be needed to run it, and they are looking at having someone part-time for three-four hours a day, five days a week to aid in that process.
The fire chief referred to the relationship Lewisporte already has with neighbouring fire departments. On the same evening as the Embree dinner, the fire department in Brown’s Arm was hosting a similar event. Fudge said the Lewisporte Fire Department was on notice to back up those two fire departments on a Saturday night and it happened without hesitation, demonstrating the relationship that already exists between neighbouring fire departments.