Essex Councillor Concerned Over Cost Of Fire Study

An Essex councillor wants answers when it comes to what was spent on a workplace assessment of the Essex Fire department.

Randy Voakes says he was blown away when he saw the total bill for the consultant come in at just under $114,000.

The original estimate for the work was $32,000 for one fire station, and while Voakes recognizes the town's two other stations were added to the study, he doesn't believe the total cost is justified.

"My point was just trying to be a responsible councillor," says Voakes. "What I wanted, was a breakdown where those expenditures went out to and the reason they went out. So when somebody comes to me, and they will come to me, I can give them a guideline or an outline of what that bill looked like."

Voakes even goes as far as saying he's afraid the consultant may be guilty of "price gouging."

"At $114,000, they're gouging us. It's not even a question. It's the reality and it's not slander, it's not anything, I just feel as though that that bill is a little bit gouging. I don't care what anybody says and I think that because we're a corporation that bill could have been enhanced a little bit," says the councillor.

Voakes' motion calling for a detailed price breakdown narrowly passed with Mayor Ron McDermott and councillors Larry Snively and Steve Bjorkman voting against it — the report will come back to council at a future meeting.

Council called for the workplace assessment of Essex Fire when concerns were raised about the working environment at the department's three stations.

A training program is being developed using the recommendations from the study.