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Nine-station fire hall plan back before council

Fire stations are back on County council’s agenda Tuesday night.
Ed Taylor is to address council regarding the the proposed new fire station.

Following requests from March’s committee of the whole meeting, council will also receive a report from the Corporate Services and Finance Commission regarding additional information on the replacement of Picton, the Heights and Mallory with a new station.

It states the nine fire station plan is still the preferred option in relation to cost effectiveness as it to provide a savings of $846,843 over 20 years in comparison to the 10 station plan.




* * *

MARCH 24 – Council will hold a special committee of the whole meeting Tuesday afternoon to consider the financial implications of a nine fire station plan – specifically with regard to the proposed new fire station to be located in the vicinity of the traffic circle.

Councillors is to receive a presentation and report of the corporate services and finance commission. They are expected to approve the plan and authorize staff to proceed with the acquisition of the property.

Last year, staff proceeded with a nine fire station plan following council’s approval of phase one of the project in the capital budget. The plan, approved in principle in 2012, recommends building two new fire stations – one near the traffic circle and one near Consecon.

Under the plan, the fire department would vacate Picton (2 Ross Street), Heights (343 Loch Sloy Industrial Park), Mallory (126 County Road 32), Consecon (81 Consecon Main Street) and Hillier (65 Station Road) and construct two new fire stations – a 12-bay main fire hall near the roundabout and a four-bay station near the water tower in Consecon. Council will also discuss the possible future relocation of a land ambulance base near the traffic circle.

The Master Fire Plan Working Committee began meetings in July 2010.

Council will hear cost ranges from a low of $5.3 to a high of $6.9 million.

The executive summary of the financial impact states that once the fire station near the traffic circle is operational, savings will be incremental and “the impact is extremely reasonable for a station projected to serve the County for 50 plus years”.

Click here for Financial Impact report

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  1. Gary says:

    I do not believe we need to invest 6 Million to achieve adequate long term fire services. Council is re looking which is a wise decision. I understand that alternate site locations are also part of that review. Good stuff! Council is doing it’s job.

  2. sanmc says:

    Why are the people who devised this 9-10 station plan not listening fully to the wisdom and experience you have plus others in your field. It makes total logical sense, a way in which a fireman operates for the best result.

    I’d say they should mandate a town street as the main fire route.

    What can we all do to help you get the best solution here? There is now still time to effect the decision for the right reasons.

    Niice job last night at Shire Hall presenting a real issue of land use.

    There was talk in corners, many months ago, about selling Essroc Community Centre, due to the expense of running it and taxpayers paying. This would pay for a large chunk of fire halls. Apparently, county to has to own it for 10 yrs. or something before selling. ? . didn’t have to time to pursue further info.

  3. David says:

    To answer some questions from previous writers:
    With the current Picton Hall location, trucks and firefighters are responding only partly through Main Street, not all the way through as they might with a new hall at the round about, when responding to parts of Picton and points east. (currently can use back streets as well.) Remember that only the first truck from the new hall (and current Picton Hall) is driven by the on duty firefighter. All other trucks are picked up by volunteers who may have to drive all the way through Main Street to a new hall at the round about. Therefore reduced response time for parts of Picton and points east. The newly proposed hall at the round about would be 2km further west of the current halls (Picton and Heights) and Main Street,especially in the summer, is a major driving challenge.
    Yes, despite the current Picton Hall location being a good one, adding on would eliminate some parking and could raise “heritage” issues.
    Yes, both Picton and Heights halls are inadequate. But Mallory is not. There are two 2000 gallon water tanks kept filled by a trickle system in the hall, and if there is a fire we fill trucks at hydrants or at ponds and streams throughout the district, most preferably near the fire scene.
    Response times are so important, and choosing the 10 hall plan with a new smaller hall (replacing Picton and Heights) in Picton or on the east side solves that problem, with Mallory remaining open. In any town or city that I have visited, I note that fire halls are often smaller and strategically placed for the best response times.
    Regarding the Heights as a current fire hall location or for a new hall, in over 30 years of responding to the Heights Hall, I have never experienced a problem, whether it be day or night, winter or summer. The County Roads Department has always treated that road as a priority.

  4. John Thompson says:

    Plans for Hillier/Consecon are not affected as this part of the plan is deferred until a report in June so that a detailed draft 10 station plan can be viewed along side of the 9 station plan. This is exactly what a minority of Councillors were asking for in the first place so they could make the best comparison.

    Fire trucks do not fill at the Halls but refill at whatever location is most feasible while fighting fires. This is why Municipal water has not been needed at Fire Halls in the past and never will be.

    It should be self evident that prime farmland should not be used for the new station. The previous Council did everything in it’s power to stop the OPP station from being built on prime ag but lost. Large solar projects are only approved on marginal land and most small projects have been built in yards, field edges or corners to reduce land use impacts.

  5. Gary says:

    Kudos to Council on this one. Taking more time to ensure that they have accurate information on costs as opposed to the sketchy figures presented thus far. It appears the repair costs at Mallory were inflated to make the 9 station plan the one of choice. Investigating alternate sites is a smart decision. Let’s get it right and at the best deal for the taxpayer.

  6. Concerned Resident says:

    To Gary, go down and see what those Picton firefighters working conditions are like. Have you ever noticed the size of the bay doors that barely fit a truck inside the garage I don’t believe for a minute that any of the staff down there want a gold plated Cadillac fire hall.

    As for Dave’s comment regarding the volunteer firefighters responding through town, it seems as though the problem will continue to exist as long as the station remains in town and for as long as the boys responding out of Mallory continue to drive through Picton to get to North Marysburgh.

    If memory serves me right regarding the use of prime agricultural land it seems as though certain individuals have no problem erecting solar panels or allowing the OPP to errect a police station on such land.

    It appears as though everyone against what’s best for the entire community won there way again.

    What a shame.

  7. Snowman says:

    Sorry ,the $20 million I was refering to was the increased cost(from around $10 mill. to the final cost of just over $30Mill.) incurred by taking 5 + yrs to make a decision.

  8. Gary says:

    $20 mill I think it was $30!!

    Better to defer and read through the smoke and mirrors than cave to the staff report. Let’s review the whole cost, needs and location.

  9. Snowman says:

    Council has deferred the motion.Back to square one.Kind of reminds you of the waste water saga were it took 5 yrs and $20 million to make a final decision.

  10. Brian Conway says:

    How much senior administrators love shiny new toys that might later be claimed as a legacy achievement. Can we afford the “me too” syndrome evident in the 9 station plan?

  11. Gary says:

    Firemen are respected and well compensated for the sometimes dangerous work they have chosen. When it comes time to decide what infrastructure and resources they require it is often best to keep it out of their hands. Too often it will end up being the gold plated rather than what will suffice. There has to be reason based decisions on safety and what the taxpayer can withstand.

  12. Phil says:

    Correct me if I am wrong but would the Heritage or Historical Foundations not stop any additions to their buildings? IF they did allow it, what do you think would happen to the free parking in behind those two buildings? That’s right it would be gone.

    According to David (the volunteer firefighter) it would be a challenge for volunteers to drive through town traffic to pick up trucks. Aren’t they (Picton)already doing that? He states he lives on the east end of Picton which means potentially he is driving through town to pick up a truck. What is the difference between him responding through town and any other firefighter who responds to Picton Station?

    How is parking a fire hall in the “vicinity” of the traffic circle going to reduce response time? You still have a firefighter leaving with a truck right away. (as per David) There seems to be an awful lot of stories going around that don’t make sense.

    You have fire halls that are extremely old buildings (Picton is one 1800’s I believe it was built and the Heights is another 1940’s??)- most of these buildings aren’t accessible and I read that the Heights and Mallory Stations have no potable water. How do they fill up their trucks? Can anyone answer that? Are they on a well system or tanks? The North Marysburgh Fire Hall looks like an old barn building. Can anyone go into these fire halls and check them out or do you need permission?

    I would not want to be the fireman who had to drive down either way from the Heights in the winter. There shouldn’t be a fire hall up there at all.

    If the 9 station plan gets voted down, does that mean the Hiller/Consecon area does not get a new hall either?

  13. John Thompson says:

    Agreed that the time value of money should have been part of the calculation. However, if the real needs for Mallory Hall were the ones being factored in, a 10 Station plan incorporating Mallory would be the most economical using any method of calculation!

  14. Gary Mooney says:

    It appears that the table above ignores the time value of money. It is not appropriate to total up amounts payable in different years until each amount is adjusted to an equivalent amount today, using an appropriate interest rate.

    For example, an amount of $1000 payable in 2033 (19 years from now) when the appropriate annual interest rate is 5% is equivalent to $395 payable today. So the adjustment factor for an amount payable in 2033 is 39.5%.

    Looking at amounts in 2033, 10 fire stations will cost $35,667 more, and 9 fire stations will save $18,885, both as compared to the base budget. The difference between the two options of $54,552 is worth only 39.5% of that amount today, or $21,548. So the amount of extra cost attributed to 10 fire stations vs nine in 2033 is overstated by $33,004 ($54,552 – $21,548).

    If you look at years 2018 and later, the difference between the two options each year seems to be between $45K and $50K. The adjustment factor for 2018 at an interest rate of 5% per year is 82.3%, so the difference in that year is not $44,817 but $36,884, an overstatement of $7,933.

    Summarizing, there’s an overstatement of the difference equal to $8K in 2018 rising to an overstatement of $33K in 2033. Based on a back of the envelope calculation, it would appear that there is an overstatement of an average of $21K per year for each of 16 years = $336K. Adding in modest amounts for 2016 and 2017 brings the total overstatement to $344K.

    The extra cost of ten fire stations over nine is stated as $847K in the table above, but is actually closer to $500K ($847K-$344K) — only 60% of the quoted amount.

    Disclaimer. I’ve made these calculations based on very limited source data. But unless the numbers shown were already adjusted for the time value of money, my calculations should be in the ballpark.

  15. Gary says:

    Well if Council had adjusted there size with the $30,000 spent for a review they could have had an even number of Councilors and one Mayor, thus eliminating tie votes when all are in attendance, i.e. 5-4 instead of 8-8!

  16. Snowman says:

    It seems to me that these posts are very similar to County Council. There are about 10-15 people who post regularly about every subject with 2-3 main points of view with very little tolerance for opposing points of view.
    Any wonder Council seems to be stalmated with tie votes
    most of the time.

  17. John Thompson says:

    On behalf of the Prince Edward Federation of Agriculture, I have twice addressed Council and requested that they defeat the 9 Fire Station Plan and proceed to develop the 10 station draft plan which would retain the Mallory Hall station. Numbers have been drafted by Shire Hall staff to show this to be less than cost effective but those who actually work there can point out that the cost assumptions have been inflated to get the desired result.

    The information from the professionals who are in the best position to know is that the repairs required at Mallory are minor in nature and that the Hall does not need Municipal water. These assumptions make a 10 Station Plan with a new Hall in or near Picton more economical than the proposed 9.

    In addition to extra costs of the 9 Station Plan, a traffic circle location would mean that response times to anywhere east of downtown Picton would increase and more of the public could face insurance cost increases from becoming more than 8 km from a Fire Hall.

    Furthermore, a new Hall near the traffic circle would undoubtedly need to be built on Prime Agricultural land and the legality of this would likely be challenged at the Ontario Municipal Board.

    I urge public attendance at tonight’s meeting and we are optimistic that the 9 Hall Plan will be defeated as happened at the Committee of the Whole on March 25.

  18. IM Messenger says:

    Ask ’em Doris

  19. Mark #1 says:

    Just for you to complain about it.

  20. Doris Lane says:

    The City of Belleville has 2 fire halls with 4 bays in each. they are building a new one now along with Thurlow.
    We have to keep borrowing money all the time.
    there comes a time when you can’t borrow any more,
    Just a side note why did the street cleaner go down Hill street at 4 am on Monday morning???

  21. IM Messenger says:

    The Feds/Prov want municipalities in debt. In this way, top financial cartel > the world bank makes tons of interest on their money. Incidentally, they print off money when they want to, there is no gold standard behind it. Extreme debts. taxpayers keep paying. Follow the money. Get out of debt. Stay out of debt.

    This fire hall thing is coming down from Gov’ts, Prov. fire hall regs. similar to police services but it’s fire halls.

    A bit late to gather ppl, sign petitions, make your protest in shire hall. Councillors will be strong armed. It WILL definitely pass – a ram through. Why do you think its back on the table? If not passed I’ll eat my hat.

    Go sit in Shire Hall tonight, Apr. 8, talk to councilors before they vote, comment on the agenda issue: fire halls


    . . April 8, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. Shire Hall
    1. Call to Order
    2. Lord’s Prayer
    3. Confirmation of Agenda
    3.1 Confirmation of Agenda…April 8, 2014 be confirmed.
    4. Disclosure . . .
    5. Announcements
    6. Adoption of Minutes
    6.1 Planning . . .
    6.2 Council Minutes . . .
    6.3 Council Minutes from…Special…Mar31…be adopted

    7. Deputations

    7.1 Ed Taylor to address Council regarding the proposed NEW FIRE STATION (Special COTW Motion CW-71-2014)(Deputation information to follow)

    THAT the deputation by Ed Taylor regarding the proposed new fire station be received.

    8. Comments from the Audience (on items on the agenda)
    9. Items . . .
    10. . . .
    11. . . .
    . . . adjourned

  22. Gary says:

    Good point Marnie. They could even add on to the existing fire hall as there is lot’s of room. You don’t continue to pile on debt when you are maxed out. You live within your means until such time as you can afford improvements. Why is that so difficult to comprehend?

  23. Marnie says:

    That’s common sense, Doris, but don’t count on council seeing it that way. Gillespie House next door to the fire hall is for sale. It is probably not going to sell anytime soon for it used to have lock-up cells in the basement and was cut up for offices, plus it has that big ramp at the back. Maybe they should knock it down and put up a building to house the pumper that won’t fit inside the Picton fire hall – a basic building, nothing fancy.

  24. Doris Lane says:

    No— at this time we do not need a new fire hall not until we pay off our water/wastewater bill

  25. Gary says:

    What you are not a fan of the amalgamations like the hospitals and municipal governments the Hudak Tories brought us! They also deregulated Ontario Hydro. That’s some pretty heavy dirt to wash of the hands and throw at Wynne. Slightly off topic but it’s all related, poor costly decisions at all levels of government that further hit the taxpayer. Do we really need such a mammoth expensive fire hall?

  26. Marnie says:

    It’s not fair to say that “many” buildings burn to the ground before the fire trucks arrive. It may happen now and then but it is not a common occurence. What about all the homes and outbuildings that are saved, thanks to our local firemen?

    Whenever the county touts some new initiative as a way of saving the taxpayer money one can be reasonably certain that we will pay through the nose. A one-tier system of county government was going to save us thousands. And how did that work out for us?

  27. IM Messenger says:

    “many buildings burn to the ground before any fire wheels turns the first corner. ie, Big Island, ”

    Don’t be offended, I watched the building burn to the ground on Big Island, no fire trucks were seen. It’s not your fault, sh_t happens beyond your control.

    Yu make good points. Firecrews have the knowledge. Not many ppl could do what you do, rush into danger.

  28. Chris Keen says:

    It’s never a case of saving us money, it’s simply a case of costing us less. In the end, we always pay.

  29. Gary says:

    If the 10 hall plan better meets the needs and saves costs then it is a no brainer. Anything that saves the taxpayer is a win.

  30. Wolf Braun says:

    “I am offended by the comment above about ‘many buildings burning the the ground before any fire wheels turn the corner’. Across the entire County the department has a very good ‘save’ record.” – Dave

    We live in Wellington and appreciate the work the our neighbour Lee Knight and his volunteers do. Yup, every fire we’ve seen his group deal with is a SAVE.

    Do you know if members of the fire crews were consulted on this proposed build ? For instance, were you asked for input? Just curious. It seems to me that the folks at the point-of-service understand best what’s needed, even with budget constraints. Cheers and thanks for doing this important work.

  31. David says:

    I am a volunteer firefighter and live east of Picton. Closing the Picton Hall, Mallory and the Heights, (9 hall plan) would result in slower response times for any point east of downtown Picton, including McFarland Home, the hospital, Glenora Road and North Marysburgh. The North Marysburgh Hall has one truck, and depends on other trucks to assist for a fire in that area. Yes, a truck could leave the newly proposed hall at the round about, driven by the on duty firefighter and travel through the town with lights and siren. But we need more than one truck,especially for a rural fire. Volunteers need to pick up the other trucks. Some volunteers live near the round about, but some also live either in, or east of Picton. What a challenge it would be to drive your personal vehicle through the town at a busy time of day to get to that new hall. It can be dangerous for everyone.

    Yes, the current halls need repair, but Mallory could remain in service with minor repairs. (10 hall plan) For example, there is water at that hall suitable for our needs. Implementing the 10 hall plan means that a new smaller hall could be built (lower cost) either in the town or to the east, and keep response times as they are.

    As someone mentioned above, you have to be cautious when predicting long term costs and savings. Selling the 3 current halls is built in as income to help offset some the costs for a large new hall. But what are the chances of selling these halls? The County already owns a lot of surplus property. Why add to that list? The 9 hall plan is certainly not a chosen option for many firefighters affected by the proposed plan. I am offended by the comment above about ‘many buildings burning the the ground before any fire wheels turn the corner’. Across the entire County the department has a very good ‘save’ record.

  32. Gary says:

    Would a new fire hall in the industrial park not make good sense? It would have great access and response to all directions of the County and almost eliminate having to deal with Main St. traffic jams unless there was an actual fire there. That because of the other routes around the town. It would satisfy the North Marysburgh concerns, be closer to apartment buildings, retirement homes and nursing homes. And it does not eliminate more prime agricultural land. And for the chart with stats well I can make a plan that I want look better than any other. We need to look at what will provide adequate service ( not Cadillac ) at the lowest cost to the taxpayer.

  33. Loretta says:

    Whenever someone tells me I’m going to save big bucks by spending money on something, I know I’m being cheated. Just like those ads on TV from a big box store furniture company, buy this chair at $300 instead of $500 – look you save $200.! Yeah right! I can buy that same chair at a non-box store for maybe $200. I still have to put money out, it doesn’t matter if the price is $200 or $300 less, that ‘saved’ money never finds its way into my pocket. I want to see actual costs, not phoney savings of money that only exists on paper, just like on those big sale tickets.

  34. Loretta says:

    Too many visitors to the County in the spring/summer/fall have no idea what a flashing green light means. Here’s an idea…. Forget spending another $10,000 to paint a silly logo on trucks and T-shirts for staff. Let’s put that money into billboards at every entrance to the county and major traffic intersections telling people to move over when they see a green flashing light, those volunteer firefighters are rushing to a fire that just might save a life. And if they don’t they should get a steep fine!

    I have read the article several times, I can see where a 9-hall firehall is $118,843 less over 20 years. But where did that $846,843 over twenty years come from? Then if you read the fine print they are comparing two firehalls on different sites… just how much of a cost difference is there between the two sites?

  35. Concerned Resident says:

    The previous comments of this issue seem to lack any facts of their claim.

    The previous report from county staff and the updated information clearly provides fact that this will decrease response times and save taxpayer money. This may also eliminate an expensive lease payment to house the land ambulance service.

    The master fire plan committee is a very knowledgeable group of individuals with many years of experience providing protection to the community. It would be a shame to see all the hard work and knowledge of this group and their plan be wasted should council choose to vote against this plan.

    I can’t see any logic spending money to upgrade and repair three fire stations that would continue to be inferior and still need to be replaced in the future.

    Residents in North Marysburgh will still have a fire hall in their ward and residents of Picton and surrounding areas will continue to be provided quick efficient service by a full time/volunteer staffed fire hall at the traffic circle which also means that volunteer staff would not have to try and negotiate busy town traffic (especially summertime) to get a fire truck from a downtown located hall.

    Just my two cents

  36. Concerned Resident says:

    If you read the report properly it proves that response times would be decreased and the tax payers would save money over time and receive better service.

    Does it make sense for the service to continue to operate out of halls that can’t contain modern equipment, don’t have potable water and are in need of costly repairs and upgrades that would still be old outdated inferior halls after all is said and done. Let’s not forget about the possibility of the land ambulance service sharing the station which would eliminate the expensive lease payments being paid to house this service.

  37. David says:

    So happy to hear that the result was tied and therefore defeated, at least for now. Was worried about the proposal, especially spending millions of dollars and having poorer response times for residents in the east part of Picton, Hallowell and North Marysburgh. It is puzzling why it would have even been considered. The 10 hall plan makes a lot more safe sense.

  38. Messenger says:

    Town of Picton: the belly button of the county? ey? Look beyond the navel gazing. It is not always about Picton > this 9 station fire hall. You might have to check your smoke detectors more often now.

    The municipal plan must intend on building a lot of housing in the outskirts amongst the turbines and their hydro routes? Who would ever want to live there . . . albeit, low income gov’t housing, with no where else for families and seniors to live and surely die there.

    Even still, the response time will be less than in other areas. Look at comparison: in the countryside many buildings burn to the ground before any fire wheels turns the first corner. ie, Big Island, Point Petre, Hallowell, etc.

    The county firemen are the “best” with the tough job they choose to do (don’t get me wrong). But the nature of the beast is somewhat against them at the start. Most all Firemen had plenty to say about this location. 9-station sounds impressive and efficient. Ask a fireman.

  39. KJB says:

    Just another service that will be removed from the town of Picton, Response time for the residents of Picton will surely be longer than it is now. On the bright side maybe our taxes will be reduced lol.

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