Recommended changes to Cape Breton fire service off the back burner

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Recommended changes to Cape Breton fire service off the back burner

After paying a consultant $50,000 for an organizational review of its fire services last year, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality could soon decide which of the consultant's 22 recommendations it will implement.

The municipality's regional council voted Tuesday night to set up a fire advisory working committee to determine which recommendations can be acted on right away and which will have to be put off for budget talks next year. 

The consultant, Manitou Inc.of Peekskill, N.Y., reviewed the municipality's fire services.

It suggested changes to everything from how the fire service handles recruitment to putting in a bylaw making residential sprinkler systems a requirement in new buildings.  

George Muise is the eastern emergency management planning officer for the Emergency Management Organization and will sit as the provincial representative on the committee.   

"It brings all of the stakeholders together at the same table to talk about the recommendations," he said,  "So that committee will look at prioritizing those recommendations."

Muise expects some of the recommendations could be put in place later this year.

Training and recruitment a must

Dominion and Glace Bay area Coun. Darren Bruckschwaiger, a former volunteer firefighter himself, told council one of the recommendations for high-angle rescue training hits home.

"When I was there we went down the banks in Dominion and rescued people but we weren't trained for it and we did it.  But today it's a different deal, you have to have training under occupational health and safety." 

Recruitment and retention of firefighters is also important, says Gilbert MacIntyre, the municipality's deputy fire chief. 

"We want to make sure that we can attract good, qualified people into the volunteer departments, and once we get them there we want to be able to keep them."

The fire advisory working committee will include representatives from the administration and management of fire services, the firefighters' union and the chief financial officer.