LETTER: Setting priorities will solve West Hants fire services dispute

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Municipal councils are sworn into office after being elected by the ratepayers for a term of office. They then have a duty to set the tax rate for various types of properties in their jurisdiction and to administer the spending of those funds for, in the majority of instances, services to properties within that municipality. In this instance, it is the District of the Municipality of West Hants.

Most rural areas in Nova Scotia have volunteer fire departments to cover fire protection services for their communities. In our community, it is the Windsor Fire Department providing volunteer services. Only the chief is a paid employee.

Now having operated for 60 years in this community, it is judged to be one of the best on the continent. I have heard only congratulations for their services to this community.

Volunteer fire departments are funded by taxes raised in the municipalities they serve, by donations, by fundraising, by auxiliary members, and maybe by grants from other governments. They do not have shareholders to whom they are beholden. They contract their services and accept responsibility to provide fire protection services. They also may contract with other local fire departments to cover each other in a mutual aid capacity when called upon.

My question is this: If an essential service is not under contract to the District of Municipality of West Hants and has not been under contract for four successive years, and since the West Hants municipality has not paid for this service for the past year, and since they are relying on the good will of the Windsor Fire Department to continue to provide this service, does this fulfill the duty of council to provide fire protection services to their ratepayers? 

The need for, and provision of, reliable, competent, fire services protection will trump the need for receipts for expenses any day when one sets priorities.


Isabel Palmeter,



Organizations: Windsor Fire Department, Municipality of West Hants

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

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Recent comments

  • Ken Walker
    June 08, 2014 - 17:17

    Council has been acting on principle for the last 4 years--unfortunately it is a WRONG principle. The community of West Hants has been speaking out in meetings, in the Hants Journal and in messages to Council and is majority against the current approach to WFD. In the next election I will be voting on the track record of community service and a supporter of WFD will get that vote. Will not be alone.

  • Debbie & Reid Swinamer
    June 01, 2014 - 22:15

    I agree a 100% with Isabelle, where is our money going if they haven't paid the WFD for the last 4 years, and how do they expect the WFD to operate if they haven't been paid, does the municipality think that the deasel comes out of the air to run the trucks and with the increase price in deasel today. I think we need to have our taxes broke down in where everything is spent and on what, it needs to be itemized

  • Leah Rissesco
    June 01, 2014 - 11:03

    Awesome! Obviously council has no comprehension of how badly they have misused the trust of the intelligent folks if West Hants. Hang your heads in shame.

  • not true
    June 01, 2014 - 10:02

    It is not true that the Chief is the only one paid... each member gets paid per call, each officer gets the same pay plus a bonus for being an officer...as well as drivers get a an extra bonus for being a driver. Though the Chief gets a pay cheque every week or two weeks depending on payroll, the members usually get their in form of an honorarium at the end of the year. Bonus or not its still consider payroll on the books, therefore making them paid members.

    • Leah Risseco
      June 02, 2014 - 11:31

      It's a pay per call honorarium. And for four dollars plus change (per call) we can be away from our real jobs for hours depending on the emergency, that pays at the very least $10.00/hr. Considerable loss don't you think, four bucks for the day or eighty? Which would you choose? If it's a forest fire we could be away from our jobs for DAYS. For that same four dollars plus change for the day. Not to mention the family events, school events for our children, social events for our communities that we get to miss. We do not get paid for the hours and full weekends that we train. So if you are that small minded that you would begrudge someone four dollars plus change for a day of back braking, weather not withstanding, sometimes gruesome scenes that you won't ever forget, then that's your right, but it's our privilege to serve our communities. It looks like we won't be given the right to chose who provides that service. According to the proposed plans for Municipal fire service new volunteers won't even get the four bucks for their gas. You all must be so proud.