Public rallies to show support of Windsor Fire Department

Carole Morris-Underhill
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Hants County residents thankful for the Windsor Fire Department’s dedication to serving the region gathered in front of the fire hall tonight, May 21, in a show of support.

The rally, organized via social media, saw about three dozen people lined up outside the WFD's King Street location as the volunteers made their way into the hall for a very important discussion.

Just prior to the 7 p.m. meeting, Fire Chief Scott Burgess thanked the crowd for coming and briefly explained the situation at hand.

For the past four years, the municipality and WFD's executive have been at odds over their service agreement. Although a contract has not been signed since 2010-11, and due to a funding disagreement, the firefighting force has not received payment for the past year, the WFD has continued to respond to emergency calls throughout the county.

“So for four years, our folks have been beat through this,” Burgess told the crowd. “It has only been recently that you folks have become aware of it. Obviously, we had no alternative. We are still over that barrel.”

News broke earlier in the day that the provincial government was willing to appoint a mediator in an effort to help the municipality and not-for-profit volunteer fire society reach an agreeable solution.

Before any negotiations can begin, however, West Hants council must vote in favour of the offer. They will be holding an emergency meeting Friday, May 23, to discuss this. If they vote in favour, it will put their recent motions relating to leaving the WFD, building a separate fire service, and hiring a fire services co-ordinator, on hold.

Warden Richard Dauphinee told the Hants Journal that he would be encouraging councillors to consider giving mediation a try.

At the public rally, Burgess said the fire society’s membership would be determining how they should proceed.

“We’re not abandoning our citizens, by no means,” said Burgess. “We intend to be here for the town; we intend to be here for West Hants.”

If the volunteer firefighting force votes to terminate their service to West Hants, something many county residents have feared would happen in light of the escalating situation between the two entities, Burgess told the crowd the WFD will not leave them stranded.

“We will probably make some kind of announcement tomorrow, but if you hear in the media that there is a termination notice, with that will be a condition to negotiate in good faith,” said Burgess.

“What we hope to do, if we can get to this mediation, is sit down, behind closed doors, and knock out a deal,” he continued.

“Our people are very supportive and want to serve all residents, serve everybody equally. We have, and we want to continue to.”

Organizations: Windsor Fire Department, West Hants council, Hants Journal

Geographic location: Hants County, King Street, West Hants Windsor Fire Department Windsor Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • John
    May 22, 2014 - 08:07

    Very disappointing that the Cheif is not keeping the staff and volunteers out of taking sides. More and more people that I speak with are gaining more support for West Hants with the Chiefs actions.

    • CountyTaxPayingFireFighter
      May 22, 2014 - 10:21

      John, I'm sorry to hear that you're disappointed in the Chief's actions. As a tax paying resident in Southwest Hants and also a fire fighter, I appreciate being kept in the loop and hearing the full disclosure. I like being able to make my own decisions rather than just being told what decisions have been made on my behalf and I should just deal with it. Council has not been as forthcoming and I think more transparency is called for rather than less.

    • Ryan
      May 22, 2014 - 12:18

      Interesting considering most of the people comment on this site are completely against it. I don't think the Chief is trying to make anyone pick sides. They're all adults and can make decisions for themselves.

  • Pat
    May 21, 2014 - 21:13

    Many many more supporters out there who just didn't know about the gathering in time I'm one of them WFD you have our Suport !!