LANARK - Rod Black sees a lot he likes, and a lot he wants to change.
Lanark Highlands fire chief Rod Black at the Lanark village fire station.
The Township of Lanark Highlands fire chief was quick off the mark at the committee-of-the-whole meeting on Tuesday, March 5, to defend his men from the rumour mill.
"I have found the Lanark Highlands fire service personnel... anything but lazy," he said at the top of his presentation on reorganizing the department.
"I have received several inquiries on this statement and it needs to be addressed. I have found that the Lanark Highlands fire service vehicles are staffed, professionally, by volunteers. The work ethic, the knowledge, the training, is second to none."
While he defended his men, he admitted that they were not perfect.
"Maybe documentation is not completed, but I guess that's why I am employed," he said.
He called on council to consider a bylaw to allow district chiefs to become deputy chiefs. This way, it would "bring senior staff to all calls in the Highlands, by being deputies, they can have the same powers as the fire chief in his absence... it brings experience to all of our calls."
Black also floated the trial balloon for consideration of a sprinkler bylaw in the township.
"I'm just putting it out there," he said.
While the service is volunteer-run, "there is a cost of doing business," and, as such, he warned that "honorariums may increase. If you want people to respond, you have to pay. My feeling is that these firefighters are driving in their own vehicles, 10, 15, or more minutes to calls or the hall. These volunteers need to be compensated. Fire personnel is the greatest resource we have, bar none."
Black also suggested that community halls in Middleville, McDonald’s Corners and Tatlock be used for meetings and training, as a temporary solution "until a proper location is found or funded," for a training room with lights, chairs and tables designed for teaching.
While spring is just starting to peek around the corner, summer will be here soon enough, and Black wants to see the department ready to deal with summer boaters.
"I do believe that the Highlands does need a boat," or even some manner of hovercraft, which could operate year-round, on ice or water.”
He suggested White Lake as the ideal home base for the boat, with a launch off of Wabalac Road, "where it is possible to gather approximately 20 men in 30 minutes. Also, this boat could be used on Clayton Lake, Dalhousie Lake, and the many rivers, streams," and other waterways in the area.
As for White Lake residents, Black called on the town's large seniors’ population to be utilized to help educate recreational residents.
"We are not asking them (seniors) to run in to burning buildings, or cut people out of vehicles," said Black, but rather to help with medical response calls, and education programs like the Fire Smart program. "Recreational users are not interested in joining the fire department," but seniors could be handy in educating them.