Although the Windsor Fire Department has been without an agreement with the Municipality of West Hants for about four years, the volunteer firefighting force continues to provide service and mutual aid to rural residents.
At a meeting called to deal with uncertainty around the recent decision by West Hants council to begin its own fire service, Windsor Fire Department firefighters voted unanimously to confirm a date for conclusion of service effective June 30, 2014.
What this means is the WFD will continue to provide fire service to West Hants residents until June 30 but cannot extend the service beyond that date without payment from West Hants and a contract to detail the future relationship between West Hants and the WFD.
Members were very clear that this was their only option, given the uncertainty they have experienced for a long time, compounded by lack of payment and contract for services. They felt it necessary to take this action to ensure the citizens of West Hants, which include many of our members and their families, will have the fire service that they need heading into the future.
At the meeting, the possibility of moving to a mediation process was discussed. Members voted strongly in favour of entering into mediation with the West Hants council, if such an opportunity is presented.
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Obviously, if West Hants also accepts the offer of mediation, we will discuss with our members how this impacts the decision they made May 21. Members welcome any opportunity to bring stability and confidence to the people who need assurance that they will have fire service.
The Windsor Fire Department has been a shared regional fire service, efficiently serving the people of the Town of Windsor and the Municipality of West Hants for over 60 years. We believe this relationship can and should continue and we believe we have shown our commitment through our patience to resolve the matter.
At a time when other municipalities across this province are challenged to provide services with diminishing tax bases, we believe it is more important than ever to work together. This fire service is a great example of how communities can share services and save money.
Fire Chief Scott Burgess