Councillor Dan MacIsaac addresses the issue of abandoned buildings during a meting of the committee of the Whole on June 11. BELLE HATFIELD PHOTO
By Belle Hatfield
The Yarmouth Fire Department has been called to 2 Forbes St. six times in the last few months to answer fire calls. That had town councillor Dan MacIsaac questioning the acting fire chief about safety concerns stemming from the rise in abandoned properties in town. He raised the issue at a meeting of the committee of the whole on Tuesday, June 11.
He said, although the building has been abandoned he is aware that someone has continued to gain access and had been living in the building.
“I thought the place was supposed to be totally vacant but I’ve noticed a particular person in and out of there,” he said, wanting to know if that posed a concern.
Acting fire chief John Wainright confirmed that the department has been called out on numerous times and that 2 Forbes St., is supposed to be vacant. The problem for firefighters is that when they get a fire call they have to search the building even though it is technically vacant.
“I can assure you that the building inspector, the fire inspector and other authorities are all out making sure that place is boarded up,” he said.
The number of houses around town that are empty, and in some cases, abandoned, continues to rise. The building inspector issued do not occupy orders in March, at 40 John St. and 1 Willow St. But it is a long process to reach that point. There are a lot of properties throughout Yarmouth that now stand empty.
Councillor MacIsaac wanted to know whether the electric meter should remain intact on a building that is vacant and has been abandoned. He worried that the electric meter provides a source of potential fire. The acting fire chief pointed out that was not an issue for the fire department, but for the landowner to decide. He noted that the meter would usually stay on the building, whether or not there is current running through it.
The town has experienced a rash of fires in the last couple of months – including a couple of warehouses – on Waverley Street in April and two weeks ago on Haskell Street. RCMP are investigating the fires at 2 Forbes St, which are considered suspicious in nature.