Bracebridge Fire Department warns about upcoming summer season
The Bracebridge Fire Department warned about the upcoming summer season in the 2023 department overview, in the February 6, 2024, General Committee meeting.
According to the department’s report, their three lines of defence include public education about fire safety and prevention, fire safety standards they adhere to and code enforcement, and emergency response, which resulted in 344 calls in 2023.
Last year also resulted in 47 inspections – a 68 percent increase from 2022.
The department has 47 staff members, which includes 42 volunteer fire fighters, and started training co-op students in operations and public education last year.
A focus on community engagement and fundraising efforts remains ongoing, through community events, including the fall fair, Christmas Food Drive with the Salvation Army, and Festival of Lights, and door-to-door campaigns, especially to older homes built prior to the requirement of smoke alarms. 202 door knocks resulted in contact with 110 residents and information left at 92 homes.
Efforts also include building relationships with community agencies that support vulnerable residents, such as those with mobility or mental impairments, which allows them to assess their safety needs.
The report continues that ongoing projects include completing the location acquisition for Fire Station 2, working with the By-law department to expand on the existing fire prevention policy, and improve technical capabilities, such as for downloading inspection information from mobile devices, and other efforts “to evolve and modernize operations to meet the needs of a growing community,” including replacing 1500 gallon tankers with 2500 gallon tankers to provide more water during emergencies.
Mayor, Rick Maloney, expressed appreciation for the work the department is doing. He said, “Our fire department is kind of looking beyond the typical response process, or the response thing of fire beyond the typical fire safety kind of process, but actually is taking that initiative to identify those persons in our community that are most vulnerable and the importance of their safety as well.”
He added, “I’m pleased as the Mayor of this community to see a report that highlights the engagement of our fire department in all aspects of our community.”
Councillor, Barb McMurray, inquired about the timeline for the movement of Fire Station 2.
Fire Chief, Scott Granahan, advised the department has narrowed six properties down to one that is in the early stages for consideration. He said, “Once we’re convinced that the property is going to serve all the needs we’re going to come back with several layers of public consultation for the community as a whole.”
Councillor, Tatiana Sutherland, inquired about the process for issues such as the fires and smoke days last summer and the role of the local fire departments.
Granahan advised, “It’s definitely a multipronged approach. The province for the most part has the most control on resources to put towards that effort.” He explained that the MNRF works with the health unit, which is shared with the District and onward.
He added that the local departments have “beyond basic” levels of protection when it comes to some wildfires, however, not heavy forest fires which would involve the MNRF.
He also warned about the upcoming warmer season. He said, “The 2023 fire season from coast to coast had the greatest impact pretty much in Canadian history, and this season’s shaping up to be pretty much the same thing.”
Councillor, Don Smith, inquired about forests around resident homes and cottages and the confusion between the criteria to cut trees back versus discouragement to cut them down and whether the Fire Department will be working with By-law about this.
Granahan said, “The messaging around any type of forest on property needs to be just in general maintenance. Trees that pose a significant threat just because of their condition or type should be managed.”
He added that ground cover poses an issue regarding the spread of fires. He said, “It happens fast, and it is very unpredictable, so it’s definitely something with By-law that we can work with on sharing common messages, but the MNR has a lot of guide type of references. We can talk about setbacks and type of foliage more resistant to the impacts of wildfire and can work on that in the future.”