Enfield fire department to stop being paid to cover part of HRM

·2 min read

The Enfield volunteer fire department will soon no longer be paid to cover a section of the community that falls within the boundaries of the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The municipality pays $40,000 a year for coverage of a section of Enfield that includes a residential area, the Irving Big Stop on Highway 2 and Ledwidge Lumber on Old Post Road.

Wayne Barchard, who lives in the area on Halls Road, said the decision to stop those payments at the end of this year is concerning.

"The Enfield fire station is only three minutes away," he said. "Who should be providing service is a no-brainer."

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Enfield's volunteer fire department responded to about 100 calls a year in the Halifax region, said fire Chief Todd Pepperdine.

But Dave Meldrum, deputy fire chief for HRM, said the fire service should not change because Enfield and Halifax are negotiating what's known as an automatic aid agreement that involves the exchange of services, but no financial compensation.

Halifax has been providing the dispatch service for the Enfield department.

'This is not unusual'

"Fire departments do this all the time, this is not unusual," said Meldrum. "Both departments are committed to prompt and effective fire service in the entire [Enfield] area."

But Barchard pointed to a recent call to a fire behind the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. He said the Fall River station took 17 minutes to respond and the Enfield department was not called.

Pepperdine confirmed his station was not dispatched.

"If that's a reflection of what's going to happen here on Halls Road, then I'm very much concerned," said Barchard.

The move to stop annual payments to the Enfield department follows changes to the Fall River fire department. It was expanded to a 24/7 operation with a combination of paid and volunteer firefighters. A new fire truck with an aerial ladder has also been assigned to the Fall River station.

Cathy Deagle-Gammon, the newly elected councillor for District 1 in HRM, said she is aware of the concerns and plans to look into the matter to ensure the response times for the area remain the same.