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2012-12-03 at 22:42

Council picks West Frederica Street location for Westfort fire hall

By Leith Dunick,
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The city is sticking with its plan to build a $1.5-million Westfort fire hall to replace the aging Brown Street station.

Council on Monday voted in favour of accepting administration’s recommendation to locate the facility on the corner of West Frederica Street and Neebing Avenue, but not before several councillors demanded the city take a sober second look in the name of fiscal responsibility.

Coun. Rebecca Johnson was loudest of the opposition group, saying it’s not the time to consider building two stations when one might suffice. Opponents wanted administration to consider amalgamating both the Brown Street and Neebing stations into one facility, a move led by Mayor Keith Hobbs.

“I don’t think we can afford to do this right now,” Johnson said.

“I don’t know how we’re going to keep spending on these things. I don’t know how much a fire hall costs. But the taxpayers are saying stop.”

Hobbs was less irate, but no more accepting of the idea.

“Personally I’m not happy with this site and I think we should be looking at amalgamation,” said Hobbs, who would have preferred a Rosslyn Road location.

Fire Chief John Hay said the new facilities, part of a $7-million plan to build two new stations and consolidate certain emergency medical services, has everything to do with response time and community service.

The goal, he said, is to have responders at calls within six minutes, and neither a single site nor council’s other option, a Gore Street and Neebing Avenue location would suffice.

“That would result in a net reduction of service to 7,000 people and 2,500 households,” Hay said. It would also mean longer response times for several neighbourhoods.

Hobbs said he wasn’t buying that argument.

“Personally, I think response times are overrated,” Hobbs said.

Brown Street station is 64 years old and cannot accommodate the size of modern fire engines and crew safety requirements. The city held public consultations on proposed hall location last year. The Gore Street location was rejected because the site did not allow for a drivethrough entrance to the station's garage, meaning firefighters would have to reverse on the street to park trucks.

The property chosen is already owned by the City of Thunder Bay.

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We've improved our comment system.
chezhank says:
It was interesting that Councillor Pugh and some councillors accepted the location of the new Westfort firestation even though they passed a resolution that was moved by Pugh and carried by council last year that required.

"That with respect to any proposed changes to Fire facilities and potential locations,the fire chief undertake further public consultation as required and report back to City Council on the results."

This was never done but maybe it was not required!

Administration will tell Pugh and council how to play the game.
12/3/2012 10:55:41 PM
Sui Generis says:
“I don’t know how we’re going to keep spending on these things. I don’t know how much a fire hall costs. But the taxpayers are saying stop.”

And we've been saying it loudly, and repeatedly, for a long time. That doesn't mean anyone is ever going to listen.
12/3/2012 11:42:37 PM
hotchoc says:
Of course they are going to get their station, just like they got their raise because the cops got their raise. No one says no to the fire guys or the gun carriers. It is the way things are in this town.

So what is the response time of the fire service during the day, and what is the response time of the fire service at 4 am. I want to know.

W. Frederica and Needing----- GOOD
one block south on Gore and Neebing BAD

Or one more block south Rosslyn and Neebing????

How about put it on Rosslyn, move the James ST. Hall south a little and close a station already. Enough is enough with everyone protecting their kingdoms.

But we won't. Everyone will say it is about safety and most everyone will vote because no one wants to head into an election and say they voted against fire protection or police protection.

And the budgets just keep getting bigger and bigger.

Hobbs might even get me to start respecting him with this kind of talk.
12/3/2012 11:58:03 PM
lonewolf9 says:
Response times are a scary situation in Thunder Bay especially when they took 2 pumpers out of service years ago. If the people only knew that many times the pumpers at Hodder, James, Junot etc...are always sitting at Water St. or Vickers "covering off" for the engines there when they're out. It's the little secret the TBFD don't want anyone to know about....
12/4/2012 2:29:47 AM
Baor says:
Not any bigger than the "secret" that 40 fireMEN out number the police AND paramedics combined round the clock and respond to less than 1 percent of their calls for service.
12/4/2012 8:57:14 PM
Rene says:
Lonewolf I just want to correct your statement. The city did not take a couple "pumpers" out of service as you have stated. These 2 trucks were in fact rescue vehicles staffed with a captain and one firefighter and responded to car accidents. They were replaced with rescue pumpers capable of carrying auto extrication tools and all the tools that the rescue truck carried. In doing so there were no staff layoffs as each rescue pumper now carries 5 firefighters, but the city did eliminate 4 captain positions saving the taxpayer thousands in wages.
12/5/2012 8:53:15 AM
Tbaylifer 1 says:
The mayors comments are funny to say the least. With the report on the multiplex location he," didn't hear from one expert that countered the consultants report" . Yet, here he is, not an expert, debating the location of the firehall which has been developed by a scientific process. He is starting to make Ruberto look intellegent.
12/4/2012 6:31:31 AM
whatelseisnew says:
“I don’t think we can afford to do this right now,” Johnson said.

“I don’t know how we’re going to keep spending on these things. I don’t know how much a fire hall costs. But the taxpayers are saying stop.”

NO STUPID!!! Taxpayers are saying STOP at spending 106.1 Million on a "multiplex (hockey arena)" not on essential services that cost 1.5 million. What this town needs is a reality check because priorities at city hall are very far out of touch with what we NEED vs What We Want!! Wake up guys!

We are in massive trouble regarding poor decision making on where money should be spent! Roads are falling apart, sewer system failed and backed up, and spending huge tax dollars on consultants just to back up council’s stupid theories just so they can be vindicated by hearing the stupidity come out of someone else’s mouth. Ugh….exhausting and disgusting the same crap over and over! Can’t afford 1.5M but let’s spend 106.1M….
12/4/2012 7:56:16 AM
ResidentJ says:
Well, aside from the fact the City won't be paying 106.1M as their share?

I don't think priorities are out of touch. We have a functioning, though flawed, emergency response system. We don't really have a functioning multiplex other than the Gardens which are not suited to so many uses.

Emergency services and cultural/recreational/ economic development services are equally important considerations for a municipality.
12/6/2012 10:01:39 AM
yqtyqt says:
Several years ago, our city (and all ontario cities) went through a tangible asset program with the hopes of inventoring and costing all existing physical assets. Estimated life cycles were to be identified and a program to replace assets was to be put in place.

This would help to guide council with priorities when capital budget decisions were being made

It appears that political decisions are superceding sound business decisions. There are only so many dollars in the taxpayers wallets and our priorites seem to be seriously flawed. If we stray from the work that has already been done, then more important and life-critical assets are delayed.

I have no problem with replacing the Brown Street Station, but how can we fund all these "nice to have" facilities (multiplex) when "must haves" are falling behind

Council needs to get back on track with its asset management program and forget the glitzy, vote grabbing items. Take care of what we have before dealing with we want that.
12/4/2012 8:43:25 AM
meta says:
There is more debate on this 1.5 million dollar firehall and calls for fiscal responsibility than we ever heard on the 100 million dollar plus events centre that we definitely can't afford

What is wrong with this City and it's council!

The leadership in this town has lost it's focus
12/4/2012 9:27:43 AM
Steven says:
Its strange....

Bit by tiny bit, some of the councillors and even the mayor on occasion have started to notice that we are in an awful fiscal situation, which I have been pointing out for a few years.

Two questions:

1) What suddenly changed today that made this expenditure bad while the many other insane costs/raises over the last few years were a-ok?

2) Whats wrong with the other members of council that they can't see the obvious awful financial situation we are in?

A single fire hall could be an easy solution for a much lower cost. Two would be nice, but when you are in as much debt/potential lawsuit payoff as we are, you don't just throw your money away for minimal gain to a few people.
12/4/2012 9:28:29 AM
Papercut says:
Here is the issue I have with this:

They will be back next year asking for a new Neebing station.

They have to.

It is simple: the proposed location of this new firehall is BLOCKED by the traintracks immediately to the this will mean they have to backtrack all the way to the intersection of hwy61 and neebing ave (by the airport).....BUT, that too has a railway crossing that may be in use....ANYONE SEE A PROBLEM HERE??????????

I emailed L.Rydholm about this...and was stunned that she fully supports it?!?

So, this new firestation MAY or MAY NOT be able to respond to fires at the Paper mill, Can Car, Rossyln road , or South Neebing...depends on train flow....sorta like rolling the dice if you ask me!!!!!!
12/4/2012 9:42:15 AM
chezhank says:
The replacement for Neebing firehall was approved by council in january when Greg Alexander the other fire chief, put it in a report that was addressing putting in EMS together with some firestations.He snuck it in and most councillors were not aware that they endorsed it.
This is when our city manager forgot to include the $7.0 million in the 2012 budget,and then put it in.
As for getting to the industrial areas,the James Street underpass is available.
12/4/2012 11:08:08 AM
DougMyers says:
There is an underpass of the train tracks at James street
12/4/2012 11:14:24 AM
Tom Sanderson says:
You bunch of cry babies always whining about the emergency services in this city. What are you going to do when you need them? Are you going to tell them you don't want their assistance when some idiot is kicking your door in or your house is engulfed in flames or you're having a heart attack?
Nope! You would complain that it took them to long to get to you.
12/4/2012 10:02:44 AM
yqtyqt says:
Well Tom, I agree with you. Emergency or protective services will trump recreational services any day of the week in my opinion. When your house is on fire or grampa is on the floor unconscious, I don't want there to be any shortage of emergency help.

The problem with protective services is that it is a never-ending money pit. Just like every other municipal service, the fire department needs to lay all of their cards on the table and prioritize their wish list. But most of all, the firefighters need to realize, especially on the operating budget side with wages and benefits, that there are only so many tax dollars to go around. The FD also needs to look at every possible way of saving money, not just show up with their hands out all the time.

Most of these guys have second jobs & I don't have a problem with that, provided they don't injure themselves on their second job. But they also have to realize that they are taking jobs from other taxpayers who foot their bill.

12/4/2012 10:59:44 AM
conker2012 says:
How is gore and neebing any different than frederica and neebing..... They are two short blocks apart? How does 7000 people loose fire service from two blocks? That sounds a bit out to lunch.

Second we don't need a second firehall out in rosslyn. Increase the speed limit on rosslyn RD so the FD can get out there faster.
12/4/2012 10:06:09 AM
Steven says:
Great point conker. Rosslyn and Broadway both have rediculous speed limits. They are flat, basically straight and both have big wide lanes plus shoulders.

Why on earth are the speed limits set at a speed I can do on my bike?

I think our north american traffic engineers need to visit Europe. Often the lanes are just over half the size of our mega-lanes here, and there is no shoulder. Nothing. You go over the edge of the lines, you either hit oncoming traffic, or you run off into a wall or ditch.

I was in Britain last year, and the vast majority of roads outside the busy cores of cities are set at 60mph. Yeah! The speed of our expressways with half the pavement per car and no division of lanes.

Increase the speed limits and suddenly everyone is within 3 minutes of the firealls. Problem solved.
12/4/2012 1:02:28 PM
Papercut says:
To Conker:

You are MISSING the critical factor here.......the traintracks which BLOCK access to Rossyln Road, South Neebing, Paper Mill, Bombardier, etc...If a train is crossing neebing avenue just south of CUTS OFF ACCESS by this station...they have to reroute to James St underpass or go to airport intersection...BOTH which cause unacceptable delays in my opinion.

They still MUST HAVE a Neebing fire hall!
12/4/2012 12:47:47 PM
conker2012 says:
There is no issue with the tracks. We have an emergency vehicle ramp from HWY 61 to rosslyn rd already. The gates are remotely activated when the emergency vehicle approaches. In the case of a train the FD could have priority lights setup on the HWY that would allow them access to the highway as they approach. If the truck can cover the distance from the station to the ramp with say an average speed of 50km/hr at a distance of 1.5 km more than the existing route would add roughy 1-2 minutes to their trip. That is the occasional situation where there is a train crossing neebing at gore.

Not an issue. Plus if there is a fire at the mill or Bombardier 1-2 minutes delay is far less than the 6 minute response time that is the goal of the FD when the new location is less than 2 mins from both without the train.

12/4/2012 5:09:26 PM
gogreenorgohome says:
The wrong questions are being asked here: Do we need more firehalls/firefighters to respond to EMS? NO! Do we have an increase in fire calls? NO! In fact, fire calls are decreasing. But, EMS calls for paramedics is increasing. Firefighters are trying to keep their jobs by responding to medical emergencies, as a "first response team". Council needs to see through the smoke and ask for the stats on 911 calls.
12/4/2012 3:51:47 PM
ruralmedic says:
more than 50% of the calls the FD do are for medical calls and it's been that way for over 5 years now.

so, your point is 100% valid.

how odd is it that the "first responders" are actually better off (in most aspects of the job; pay, vacation, equipment, facilities, benefits, etc) than the medical professionals?

12/4/2012 9:26:49 PM
Papercut says:
To Conker:

You still are missing it......the new location is NORTH of the tracks...the gated road off Rossyln is SOUTH of the tracks....meaning BLOCKED OFF if a train (and they are usually very long ) is crossing at the time when they are trying to respond to an emergency......Is it getting clear?
12/5/2012 1:34:28 PM
lonewolf9 says:
Rene: You are right that they combined the pumper/rescue truck, but years ago 2 pumpers were taken out of at Vickers and one at North Central. Ask any firefighter.
12/6/2012 11:19:19 AM
Rene says:
Well if they removed 2 pumpers from service "years ago" as you state and we are told that the FD is maintaining a 6 minute response time today then I would have to say good job on the chiefs part to realize a significant savings to the taxpayer. Could you imagine just how much more inflated their budget would be if they had kept these 2 pumpers that obviously were not needed in service. If I recall the FD's call volume has doubled since 1996 when they started a tiered response agreement with EMS. So even though they have doubled their work load since that time they have sill managed to meet response times with less staff. I'm sure EMS and Police cannot say the same.
12/6/2012 5:59:13 PM
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