Early in the morning of January 9, 2015 I received an emailed photo of what appeared
to be a fire emergency on William Street in Port Stanley, but was it a fire?
Statistics Chief Crocker has supplied to Central Elgin Council over the years show
that about 94 per cent of calls to which our Fire Rescue Services respond are not
fires. The stats show they are usually responding to medical emergencies or false
alarms. Structure fires within the municipality are rare, and rarer still in Port
So was this call an actual fire? In the past, calling Chief Crocker and asking him
has not given me any definitive answer. So let's look closely at this picture and
see if we can determine if there is an actual structure fire in progress.
There are four fire trucks showing and they all seem to be parked on the west side
of William Street by the Kazwear building and just north of The Buccaneer Restaurant.
In most news footage of fires in progress that you see on television, fire trucks
are parked to sort of surround the building on fire and give them different points
from which to fight the fire. That is not the case in this picture.
We see five fire fighters in bunker gear standing or walking around, or talking
to passing motorists. None are holding hoses and none appear blackened by smoke
or dishevelled in any way. In fact, they do not appear to be doing any kind of fire
fighting at all.
My guess, just by what I see in the picture, is that this was either not a fire
call at all; or if there was a fire, it was very small in nature. Yet four trucks
and who knows how many fire fighters were sent in response to this call.
There must be some way Central Elgin can work out a system with the 911 dispatchers
such that we are not dispatching more trucks, more equipment, and more firefighters
to a call than are really needed, and that we are not sending pumper trucks to answer
medical emergency or CO2 calls. Working out a system for accurate and
appropriate response would most probably go a long way to reducing costs in our
fire services budget.