Dear Editor,

Scugog’s full-time firefighters say that a number of devastating fires in recent weeks are blunt evidence the town needs to take public safety more seriously and position more fire fighters on the front lines, ready to respond to emergencies quickly.
“Our response capabilities are suffering dramatically,” said Scugog Professional Fire Fighters Association President Clint Walker. “We just can’t keep up with the growth Scugog has experienced. Because the fire department hasn’t grown since 2004, we’ve been stretched thinner and thinner, to the point that it’s unsafe for the public, and for us.”
In 2004, Town Council made the correct decision to hire full-time firefighters. The original plan was to hire two additional fire fighters per year until there were 10, a number that would have significantly improved response times and capabilities. Sixteen years later, there are only four full-time firefighters. Meanwhile, the community has grown significantly through development.
The fire fighters urge the town to revisit the issue immediately and come up with a plan to improve fire department response capabilities, by adding more full-time personnel, thereby, offering a guaranteed level of response alongside the dedicated part-time firefighters who serve the area. They also urge citizens concerned about their safety to raise the issue with council members.
Growing the number of full-time firefighters to 10, for example, would enable crews to arrive at the scene of a burning home quicker and with more resources to perform the multiple tasks required, and if necessary begin interior search and rescue possibly sooner for anyone who may be trapped. It would also enhance public education, safety inspections, and training. The true number of full-time firefighters needed to safely and effectively protect Scugog should be determined through a careful review of community risks.
Walker noted, the town takes in development charges, supposedly to fund the services required when growth occurs. New construction also expands tax revenues, so more should be available. But the town has failed to use those resources to build the level of fire protection and emergency response the fast-growing community and its citizens expect and deserve.
The fire department does more than fight fires. It is an all-hazard public safety agency, the public’s first line of defence in virtually any kind of emergency. The fire department is not just a cost, but an investment in the community, earning dividends in the form of lives and property saved, reducing economic impact from fires and other emergencies, and generally lowering residential and commercial insurance rates.
If there’s one thing Scugog residents expect their tax dollars to do, its keep them and their families safe,” Walker said. “Now is the time for council to put public and fire fighter safety at the top of its agenda.”

Clint Walker, President
Scugog Professional Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 4679