County residents will be protected

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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UPPER NAPPAN - Cumberland County residents living around Amherst will have fire protection when the town withdraws its service on July 1, 2008.
"We're going to provide an interim service with our rural departments that are close to those areas until we can establish a permanent department," Warden Keith Hunter said Tuesday. "We're talking to the fire chiefs in Leicester, Truemanville and River Hebert about extending their borders and don't see any interruption."
Hunter said the county's decision not to continue negotiations with the town has nothing to do with the quality of service provided by the Amherst Fire Department, but everything to do with the price tag suggested by the town.
"I think we're too far apart," he said. "What Amherst is asking and what we're willing to pay is far apart. We can provide the service at much less than what we're asking for. It's incumbent upon us to keep the tax rate down while providing the same level of service."
On Monday, Amherst passed a motion saying its firefighters will no longer respond to calls in the county after its request to increase the amount of money it receives for providing fire protection services was turned down by the county.
Along with extending the boundaries of its rural departments in the area, Hunter said the county is considering establishing a temporary fire department and is expecting to kick off recruitment efforts early in 2008.
Hunter said rural fire departments will provide the service presently being provided by Amherst and said rural residents should have nothing to fear. The rural fire service, he pointed out, will be able to respond to major fires at larger institutions such as the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre, which will become the county's responsibility.
"We'll have to be ready. There will be no lapse in fire service and we will be able to provide the same level of service that's being provided now," Hunter said.
Last year, the county paid Amherst around $144,000 for fire services. The town requested a $160,000 increase. The county responded with an offer of $55,000 - the same level it funds its rural departments.
While some may hope the town and the county will end their war of words and go to the table, the warden said that point has been passed and the county has to move ahead with its own plans.

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Amherst Fire Department, Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre

Geographic location: Cumberland County, Leicester, River Hebert

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Recent comments

  • Steve
    January 18, 2010 - 10:42

    I think Kieth Hunter is dangerous, he and County Council has gone way too far this time. They are putting lives and property at risk. What next Keith going to start your own Police Department as well?

  • Concerned
    January 18, 2010 - 10:35

    Again, Hunter is a nut. His own style of numbering. If the county accounts for 25% of the work provided by the AFD, then that is the minimum they should pay for the service. Let's not forget the fuel factor either, those trucks aren't cheap to drive and I am willing to bet that the Amherst department spends as much or more on fuel for county then for town calls.

    What do those trucks cost, 4? 500,000? And this guy thinks he can build his own department cheaper then utilizing, and paying fair value to an existing one? Look for a jump in tax rates, a major jump in spending, and major risk to human life.

    Living on Dorsey road, will Truemanville respond to my fires? Does that mean that the Truemanville FD, which mostly work in Amherst, will need to leave say, IMP, drive to Truemanville, pick up their trucks, then drive to my burning house?

    I think it is time to put the house for sale, and move somewhere with a sane government!

  • jamie
    January 18, 2010 - 10:31

    OK sit down do the numbers thing ,you can bash Hunter ,will that help nope. When you add up the numbers 22 to 25 % of the calls out side of the town. if the town gets 300 calls that is 66 to 75 calls. the town is getting$ 122,000 to $144,000 for calls ,that is in between $1500 to $2000 for one call out . If all the dept. in Cumberland county could get that you would see some happy fire dept. So if Amherst pulls the fire service from the county does this mean they lose the county truck ?{ ha truck for new dept}. Is ED going to sit at the hall and stop firefighters from going to a call outside of the town. are firefighter in the town going to stay home when that pager goes off ? Is the town running the fire dept. as a business? Ha ask firefighters what they are there for i bet it is to save life and property not for the money. So ha hunter and town of Amherst go back to the table and talk some more before it is to late. thanks for your time be safe