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Brunton proposes combining fire stations

 POSTMEDIA NETWORK

St. Williams Fire Station. (File photo)

St. Williams Fire Station. (File photo)

SIMCOE - 

Coun. Doug Brunton wants Norfolk to consider amalgamating its fire halls in St. Williams and Port Rowan.

Norfolk County staff had laid the groundwork for amalgamating a new fire hall in St. Williams with a new ambulance depot serving Port Rowan. In a report to council, staff said a combined fire-hall ambulance station would cost about $2.3 million.

Earlier this month, council gave the green light to looking at potential locations, including the current locations, for the shared building.

At a meeting on Tuesday, Brunton made an amendment to a previous motion asking that staff also look into the possibility of combining a shared location for the St. Williams and Port Rowan fire stations and EMS.

“In the long term, it would save millions of dollars,” said Brunton. “We’d have three properties we could sell. To me, it’s common sense.”

Brunton provided a map that showed the areas covered by the two fire stations.

“There is a lot of overlap in the coverage the two stations provide.”

The amendment, which was approved by council, was opposed by Mayor Charlie Luke and Coun. Noel Haydt, who represents both Port Rowan and St. Williams.

Luke said he has concerns about whether a combined fire hall could meet the provincially-required response times for the communities.

The mayor believes the current St. Williams fire station is in a strategic location.

Luke said the Station 10 fire hall in St. Williams is past its useful life. A replacement station has been slotted in the county’s capital budget for 2019.

“We have replaced many of our fire halls,” he said. “We have some tip-top shape fire halls but (St. Williams) is tired. It needs some work.”

The ambulance station serving Port Rowan on Highway 59 is slated for replacement in 2022. However, there are a number of issues, including mold, at the station that new construction would resolve.

In previous discussion about the amalgamation, council agreed that the site of the current fire hall in downtown St. Williams may not be the ideal location for a new one, given the proximity of other fire halls and the need to maximize emergency response times.

Norfolk Fire Chief Terry Dicks said in a report to council that “co-locating Fire Station 10 and EMS Base 6 (in Port Rowan) into St. Williams is a feasible and fiscally-responsible opportunity.”

Luke said he expects the staff report on the matter will come back to council for discussion in the fall.