Approval granted for new tanker
BROOKFIELD – A longstandng issue that has been festering between the Brookfield Fire Department and its three-member ruling commission has been finally put to rest, Fire Chief Rod Nielsen says.
Brookfield fire chief Rod Nielsen
The end result is that full approval has been granted for the purchase of a new $225,000 tanker for the department and a commitment has been made by the two sides to improve future communication efforts.
“It was heated but progressive,” Nielsen said, of a ratepayers meeting held at the fire hall Monday evening.
“What has happened is that we’ve had a commission that doesn’t have any firefighters on it anymore. So the communication broke down. It just made animosity because you had commissioners that didn’t have fire experience and (who) were making decisions for 30 other people that do. It just became nit picky. It’s just stuff that you don’t want to have happen in a community.”
But Nielsen said the matter was put to rest with the election to the commission of active firefighter Terry Canning. He replaces outgoing commissioner Julie Walters, who had completed her three-year term.
Nielsen said communication concerns have been ongoing for more than two years and came to a head after the fire department proceeded with the ordering of a new water tanker, without prior approval from the commission.
That issue ultimately received ratepayer support during the meeting and the department and the commission came away with an agreement to be more co-operative and have more communication in the future.
“Very positive. Still a lot of work ahead of us but very positive,” Nielsen said, of the night’s results.
“So those issues were satisfactorily corrected.”
Commissioner Gerry Greene, who is starting his third year on the board, agreed.
“We’ve worked out most of the issues and we’re working on a go forward basis. We are going to be working far more closely,” Greene said. “The goals of both the fire department and the commission are the same.”
Greene said the department ordered the purchase of the new tanker on the “belief that they had their own authority” to do so. But he said proper protocol for such capital purchases would have involved prior approval from the commission and the ratepayers.
“Protocol wasn’t followed in terms of approval. That has all been cleared and a procedure put in place and agreed to,” Greene said. “That won’t happen again.”
But Greene also lauded the dedication of the department’s members, whom he described as being “very passionate” about what they do.
“It’s a strong department. It’s probably the best trained and one of the best-motivated departments in Nova Scotia,” he said.
The meeting also saw approval of the department’s annual budget during which no increase was made to the community’s fire service rate of 17.5 cents per $100 of assessment.
Fire commissions came into being in the early 1950s and Brookfield is one of only several communities within Colchester County whose fire departments are still overseen by such a body. Commission members are elected by the ratepayers and serve three-year terms, with one position expiring each year to ensure there is always an experienced member carrying forward.