Fire Chief Frank Loeffen of the West Nipissing Emergency Services asked municipal council for permission to hire a consultant to help put together a Community Risk Assessment and Fire Master Plan.
“The idea of the plan is to develop long-range strategic planning framework to guide the priorities and objectives of the West Nipissing Fire Department,” Chief Loeffen said. The plan will provide strategy for the next 10 years, and thoroughly detail everything the department currently has, and what it will need, in that time.
This includes all equipment, staff, training, and assessing the needs of the community as well as anticipating future needs based on growth projections. The study will clarify “where we are, and where we need to build to” in the coming years.
The Community Risk Assessment came about in 2019. The Province of Ontario has made this mandatory for all municipalities, and the province wants them completed by 2024, the Chief explained. An assessment of this sort “is a very large undertaking.”
Hence the consultant or consulting team. Council agreed that was fine, and municipal staff will put out a call for proposals, and see what bids come in for the work. Chief Loeffen estimates a cost of around $50,000 for the consultants, “but it depends on population size, and the geographical area being covered.” He noted a similar plan cost Sudbury about $100,000 to prepare.
“As for where we are getting the money,” Jay Barbeau, West Nipissing’s chief administrative officer noted, “we received funding a few years back from the Modernization Fund that the Government of Ontario has provided so that smaller and rural municipalities can find ways to improve their processes to be more efficient and effective.”
A study like this fits those parameters, and “we still have money available through that fund so there wouldn’t be any impact on the budget at all.”
“Certainly the outcomes of a Fire Master Plan will provide this council and future councils with a roadmap as to where we can go,” Barbeau added.
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.