‘I could never leave a fire!’

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

“Can people send fire trucks home because they can’t afford the fees?’ asked Town of High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk at council’s April 13 meeting.

Fact is, no one was sure.

The question arose after a news story involving the Beaver County volunteer fire department was published. During a fire, a resident asked the fire department to leave because they could not afford the bill, which had already been estimated at $50,000.

The County does not cover the cost of fire calls.

“We were under the assumption that as municipal taxpayers that our County, that was part of the services provided so that was our big wake up call,” said Samantha Zemlak.

“Morally, I don’t think I could do that [leave a fire],” replied fire chief Trevor Cisaroski to Panasiuk’s question.

“I hope I would have council’s backing,” he added.

Council’s policy is clear: they set the fees for firefighting, then decide whether or not to enforce or waive payment.

“A lot of people think their taxes pay for fire suppression,” said Panasiuk, echoing the thoughts of Zemlak.

Councillor Michael Long supported Cisaroski.

“I would hate to think we’d let a structure burn.”

“What is the citizen’s right to refuse the service knowing they have to pay for it?” asked Panasiuk.

Administration will research and report back at a later meeting.

The matter was also brought forward at the M.D. of Smoky River meeting April 14 by Councillor Luc Levesque.

“You just can’t leave a fire,” replied director of protective services Marcel Maure.

“I could never leave a fire.”

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