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Town Fire Department Leaving Mutual Aid Group Over Point Tupper Dispute
PORT HAWKESBURY - This town's volunteer fire department will leave a region-wide mutual aid group for local emergency responders, as a result of a neighbouring municipality's decision to choose another fire department to provide emergency protection to the region's largest industrial area.
Members of the Port Hawkesbury Volunteer Fire Department voted in September to leave the Strait Area Mutual Aid Association (SAMAA), in light of Richmond Municipal Council's decision to award a contract for the protection of Point Tupper - located within the county boundaries - to the Louisdale and District Volunteer Fire Department. This development arose in mid-July, after Richmond County refused a one-year contract presented by the Town of Port Hawkesbury that saw the costs of fire service protection for Point Tupper arise from just under $50,000 to nearly $75,000.
Speaking to TELILE 24/7 host Adam Cooke in early October, Port Hawkesbury Fire Chief Curtis Doucet confirmed that his department has subsequently voted to delay its departure from the SAMAA to December 25, as opposed to the original departure date of September 25. Doucet noted that this would give the department more time to draw up an estimated 30 individual contracts with the various communities for which it had previously provided mutual aid services, which are scattered throughout Richmond, Inverness, Guysborough, and Antigonish Counties.
While he expressed regret that Point Tupper's heavy industries and a handful of community residents will now be under the protection of a department that takes nearly triple the amount of time to reply to an emergency call as his own, Doucet insisted neither the town nor its fire department can provide free first-responder service to a community whose overall municipal body does not wish to pay a fair price for this service.
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