Fire service cost recovery may prove costly for those without safety equipment

Puslinch is considering a harder stance on those not taking proper safety precautions.

Part of that discussion may include billing property and business owners the costs of safety equipment damaged during responses to such calls.

Puslinch fire chief Steven Goode described the idea as a means of cost recovery.

Goode made his pitch at council on June 17 following a presentation outlining the cost to replace damaged equipment as a result of calls earlier in the year

On April 27, Puslinch Fire and Rescue Services responded to a reported dust collector fire on Nicholas Beaver Rd. The fire was confined to an exterior dust collector system on the north/east corner of the industrial building. Complete fire extinguishment required extensive overhaul of the dust collector system.

During a subsequent investigation, staff determined the fire was caused by spark(s) from the plasma cutting machine operation that had entered the dust collection system.

However, it was also determined the on – site fire pump was out of service which affected the dust collector sprinkler system water flow.

Good said township staff through an inspection order dated May 15 required the owner to repair the fire pump and suppression system.

Goode noted that standard fire department practice is to send all dirty contaminated gear to Fire Service Management for cleaning and testing. In this case, the township was told that they were unable to have all contamination washed out of 10 sets of bunker gear.

Fire Service Management recommended the bunker sets be removed from any live-fire service. The fire department immediately removed the 10 sets from service and also removed 10 helmet liners and 14  sets of suppression gloves.

Goode said township staff met with the owner and indicated an invoice would be issued for the cost recovery of the protective fire equipment under the township’s 2015 fees and charges bylaw which allows for charging for replacement of equipment and resources at 100% cost recovery.

The fire on Nicholas Beaver Road caused the township to incur significant fire protective equipment replacement costs. The total replacement cost for all damaged protective equipment totals $22,670 inclusive of the non–refundable portion of HST.

The township will invoice the owner for all incurred costs in the replacement of the fire department protective equipment and the material analysis.

Goode also described June 3 response to a single-vehicle accident on Victoria Road South just south of McLean Road.

That accident resulted in a hazardous material spill when the gas tank of the vehicle was ruptured.

The vehicle driver was not on scene as the fire department arrived.

Goode said by that time gasoline was absorbed by the soil and had traversed into the small stream.

Firefighters obtained straw from a local farmer to stop up the stream to mitigate the spill.

“Unfortunately several litres of gas ended up going downstream towards Mill Creek.”

Goode said the spill was on township land and staff contacted a hazardous material company for cleanup.

That included numerous loads of soil and contaminated hazardous materials equipment on scene, Goode said.

He said township staff will attempt to recover the costs – the cleanup, the response call, and the materials used by the fire department.

Councillor Wayne Stokley asked if it was a resident or non-resident involved in the accident?

Goode was not 100% sure as of the meeting.

Stokley said it is unfortunate this type of incident would occur and that the person was not there.

“It boggles my mind.”

Mayor Dennis Lever asked what happens when bunker gear cannot be used.

Goode said that while the department has some spare sets of gear, but they are expired (past their 10-year lifespan).

He noted a neighbouring department did assist … but there are still a few firefighters unable to respond to certain calls.

“It puts a damper on our ability to respond (in terms of the number of firefighters).”

Goode noted replacement gear is on order and should arrive shortly.