Sounding the alarm: plans to amalgamate some aging departments in CBRM is raising concerns

Port Morien Fire Chief James Bates is sounding the alarm on a purposed idea to close four rural fire departments in the CBRM in favour of one central facility.

"One of the services we provide is the medical first response service, so with an aging population seconds count. It's not a matter of minutes or anything else, it's seconds," says Bates.

Chief Bates says at a meeting Wednesday night with Regional Fire Services, the idea was presented to amalgamate Donkin, Birch Grove, Tower Road and Port Morien departments and building one station to services all of the communities.

But Bates says the service area is too big and would potentially put lives in danger.

"If we have to drive any distance to get to a vehicle to get us to that emergency, chances are we're going to be passing an ambulance on our way to get to a piece of equipment instead of responding to the actual scene. So it will definitely have an impact," he says.

CBRM Councillor for the area James Edwards says the idea is not set in stone just yet. 

"One of the things that come out of the meeting yesterday was they we're going to solicit public feedback," he says.

With aging facilities in some communities, the city says the purpose for Wednesday's round table was to come up with ideas to improve services.

They say leadership is listening to volunteer departments and ensuring communications channels are open.

Although amalgamation was not the only idea, it's one Bates says his community will not stand for.

"One thing I've learned over the past is this community stands together, I can't see Port Morien, Donkin, Birch Grove, or Tower Road sitting idly by and just allowing this to happen," says Bates.

There is currently no date set on when any decisions will be made.