Amherstburg Fire Department

Council moving forward with open air burning bylaw

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A decision is still weeks away as to whether open air burns will be permitted in Amherstburg, but the town is moving forward in the process.

Town council authorized administration to move forward with an open air fire bylaw and permit process for council’s consideration at a later date with public consultation meetings to be set up to allow residents to speak to it.

Councillor Rick Fryer pointed out he was the one who brought the issue forward, noting that some residents may want to have a bonfire with their children. He said he has heard a lot of comments and innuendo from residents but said he understands both sides of the argument including the argument against smoke and fumes.

“I’ve had blood clots in my lungs and I understand the health issues,” said Fryer. “I do understand the flipside too. It’s not something I thought of willy nilly.”

Fryer said the idea would be to call a hotline and see if conditions were right to have a fire, though added there is a difference between a fire in a rural area and a small bonfire in urban areas.

According to Fryer, about 70 per cent of people he has heard from are “excited” for the possibility of it being easier to have a bonfire while 30 per cent have health issues they are concerned with.

“I feel for them,” he said of the latter.

The bylaw will be “complicated” and will have to come back to council after a public consultation process, he added.

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In a report from fire chief Bruce Montone, he said “open air burning and campfires are currently taking place in all (urban, sub-urban and rural) areas of the Town of Amherstburg. The current situation where campfires are not permitted anywhere is resulting in illegal burns taking place in spring, summer and fall with no appropriate controls in place. Enforcement of the current bylaw is not manageable with current resources. Fire services is limited to responding to complaints with very little information often resulting in full station responses. In the past three years fire services has responded to 133 open burn calls at a cost to ratepayers of approximately $40,000.”

Montone added in his report that “the proposed by-law establishes a set of comprehensive maps that define the regulated areas for open air fires. The proposed harmonized by-law continues to permit open air fires where such burning can be carried out safely and provides for control over open air fires. The intent of existing regulations will be maintained within the proposed bylaw. To address changes in population density and fire safety conditions however, certain geographical areas will not be permitted to have open air fires.”

Montone said that a processing fee of $25 for an annual open air fire permit and $75 specific event open air fire permit respectively are proposed for the processing of the permits but told council those were suggestions based on information gathered from other Essex County municipalities. He said they are trying to “strike a balance” between customer service, recreation and public safety.

Councillor Joan Courtney said the intention was not for Amherstburg council to pass a new bylaw quickly and said she wants to hear from the public.

“I understand both sides,” said Courtney.

Councillor Diane Pouget questioned no fines after responding to 133 calls. She added she is “adamantly opposed” to moving forward with the process, believing council should have just received Montone’s report and gone no further. There are many toxins that are emitted during such burns and people’s health could be negatively impacted.

“Council was very concerned about smoking and second hand smoke and eliminated all smoking near municipal buildings and parks,” she said, “yet we’re thinking of allowing open air burns?”

Pouget was particularly concerned about burns in urban areas, noting rural landowners have to have burns as part of their farming operations.

“They have a right to burn because it is part of their agricultural needs,” she said.

Montone told town council that all Essex County municipalities except Amherstburg currently have “permissive systems” with Fryer adding “we’re the only community in Essex County that doesn’t allow this.”

Council moved forward thanks to a 5-1 vote, with Pouget being the vote in opposition. Councillor Jason Lavigne was not in attendance.

Small fire on McCurdy Dr. causes roughly $3,000 damage

 

 

A fire on McCurdy Dr. late Monday afternoon caused minimal damage, according to reports from the Amherstburg Fire Department.

Fire crews were called to a home in the 200 block of McCurdy Dr. The Amherstburg Fire Department states that a smoke alarm alerted owner of the home to the fire.

The fire department states the owner extinguished the fire prior the arrival of firefighters. The cause is under investigation.

The Amherstburg Fire Department tweeted that the fire in 200 block of McCurdy started in basement.

“Quick action by owner prevented greater damage,” it was stated.

Damage estimates are $1,000 to the home and $2,000 to contents.

Amherstburg firefighters deal with pair of rural blazes

 

By Ron Giofu

Amherstburg firefighters dealt with a pair of rural fires last Thursday night, neither of which caused any injuries.

A small chicken coop and a machine shed caught fire in the area of Texas Road, east of Concession 5 North, said assistant deputy chief Ron Meloche. There is no official cause, though Meloche indicated it appears there was grass burning in the area. He said a backhoe was called in to tear down the structure, as it was not safe for the firefighters to enter.

A damage estimate was pegged at around $5,000.

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Later in the evening, fire crews were called to a farm on County Road 20 near Malden Centre. Meloche said an “older farm tractor” backfired and caught fire. The door on a nearby barn was open and that, combined with a quick response from the Amherstburg Fire Department, prevented the fire spreading from the tractor.

Meloche credited firefighters for knocking that fire down quickly and preventing it from spreading to nearby structures.

Damage in the latter fire was estimated at approximately $3,000. Meloche estimated the age of the tractor at between 50-60-years-old.

Firefighters from stations two and three attended both blazes, Meloche added.

Amherstburg Fire Department, Ribfest, ACS team up on CO safety

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Fire Department is teaming with the Amherstburg Rotary Club’s Ribfest committee and Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) on a carbon monoxide (CO) safety program.

A total of $9,500 was used to purchase 623 carbon monoxide alarms that will be distributed free of charge to vulnerable residents in the community. The Ribfest committee kicked in $5,000 of the $9,500 total with an additional $2,500 coming from a Rotary International grant. The remaining $2,000 was funded by the fire department.

The Amherstburg Fire Department is teaming with the Amherstburg Rotary Club’s Ribefest committee and Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) to launch a program that will help over 600 vulnerable residents obtain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. From left: Chief Bruce Montone, Ribfest committee chair Carl Gibb, Ribfest committee members Shirley Bondy, Tony Ross and Ann Marie Favot, Rotary Club president Laura George, ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo, Ribfest committee member Lena Lazanja and Deputy Chief Lee Tome.

The Amherstburg Fire Department is teaming with the Amherstburg Rotary Club’s Ribefest committee and Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) to launch a program that will help over 600 vulnerable residents obtain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. From left: Chief Bruce Montone, Ribfest committee chair Carl Gibb, Ribfest committee members Shirley Bondy, Tony Ross and Ann Marie Favot, Rotary Club president Laura George, ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo, Ribfest committee member Lena Lazanja and Deputy Chief Lee Tome.

Deputy Fire Chief Lee Tome said it is “an excellent partnership” and said it was initiated when Rotary Club president Laura George and Rotary Ribfest committee chair Carl Gibb approached him about it. Tome said Chief Bruce Montone worked with First Alert and their parent company Jarden Canada on acquiring them.

Tome said during last Wednesday morning’s announcement that it was just the beginning of their partnership, as they now have to distribute the CO alarms to those most in need.

“We’re really excited to partner with the Rotary Club and ACS,” said Tome. “This is a partnership that is going to be lasting for some time.”

Montone agreed that this is “just the beginning” for the partnership.

Deputy Fire Chief Lee Tome speaks to the crowd during the launch of the CO detector program, being run in conjunction with the Rotary Club Ribfest committee and Amherstburg Community Services (ACS).

Deputy Fire Chief Lee Tome speaks to the crowd during the launch of the CO detector program, being run in conjunction with the Rotary Club Ribfest committee and Amherstburg Community Services (ACS).

“Carbon monoxide is a silent killer,” said Montone. “It’s tasteless and odorless and very much deadly.”

Carbon monoxide is a by-product of incomplete combustion of many types of common hydrocarbon fuels. A new law amended the Ontario Fire Code in October 2014 to ensure that every home and residential building with a fuel-burning appliance, fireplace or an attached garage must have a working carbon monoxide alarm.

Montone said people impacted by carbon monoxide often show flu-like symptoms. The alarms sound differently from smoke alarms and if it goes off, people need to remove themselves from their homes and call 911 immediately.

Montone offered his thanks to Jarden Canada and First Alert, noting the fire department was able to achieve a 63 per cent price reduction on the CO alarms.

George said the Rotary and the Ribfest committee is pleased to partner with the Amherstburg Fire Department and ACS to donate the carbon monoxide alarms to vulnerable residents. She said the success of the Ribfest led to them turning the money back into the community.

“We are here today as a result of the hard work, dedication and long hours that have been given by an extraordinary group of volunteers,” said George.

George thanked Montone and Tome for their support and efforts to make the project a success as well as ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo for also becoming a partner.

Fire Chief Bruce Montone installs a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm at the home of Nelly Main May 31.

Fire Chief Bruce Montone installs a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm at the home of Nelly Main May 31.

DiBartolomeo said ACS immediately agreed when the idea of partnering with Rotary and the Amherstburg Fire Department was brought to them.

“At ACS, we have many clients in the vulnerable sector,” she said. “We know the dangerous and tragic result of carbon monoxide poisoning. We look forward to working with the Amherstburg Fire Department to have these carbon monoxide alarms installed in many of the homes of the residents we assist.”

Tome said the distribution of CO alarms would just be part of the service the Amherstburg Fire Department would offer. He said firefighters are also asking to check smoke detectors, go over home escape plans and look for things such as extension cords under carpets and other potential fire hazards.

“Our goal is to protect the residents of Amherstburg, not just through the carbon monoxide alarm program, but for anything else we see,” said Tome. “We want to make sure every resident is safe.”

For more information on how to qualify for a free CO detector, call the fire department at 519-736-6500.

Town updating nuclear plan, hopes for more help

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town of Amherstburg is updating its nuclear response plan but is trying to overcome issues, some of which revolve around funding, due to the town’s unique situation on the subject.

The plan hadn’t seen major updates since its creation in 1998 and deputy fire chief Lee Tome said there had to be “a significant number of changes” to it. He said the province put out a proposal for updates to its Ontario-wide nuclear plan and the town is trying to get in line with that.

“Amherstburg is an anomaly because the nuclear facility is in the United States,” Tome said, in reference to the Michigan-based Fermi II nuclear plant.

Work continues with the province on getting the necessary funding for Amherstburg with Tome adding that the town doesn’t have the luxury of having a nuclear facility that can send resources to Amherstburg in case of an emergency. That differs from other municipalities with nuclear plans as those municipalities are near plants that are also in Ontario.

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Tome said the town is looking at increasing funding to ensure the appropriate equipment and training is obtained.

“We’re hopeful once the changes to the provincial plan are made we’ll be able to then solidify our plan,” said Tome.

There has been no full nuclear exercise since 2004, he added.

Fermi II does contribute $25,000 annually for the town’s nuclear plan but more is needed, so the town is seeking other funding sources – including senior levels of government – to help. Tome said they did receive nearly $40,000 in funding for monitoring equipment from Health Canada.

Local taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for the plan, he believed.

“We are slowly making progress,” said Tome. “The issue is who is going to pay for the program on a go-forward basis.”

The town is also working with the medical officer of health on the issue of potassium iodine (KI) pills for those in the “primary zone,” the zone that would be within 16 kilometres of Fermi II. Talks are underway with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care as to who will fund the pill distribution. KI pills would assist those who take them in preventing their thyroid gland in absorbing radioactive material.

Residents of Amherst Pointe would be in the primary zone with Tome adding Boblo Island will also be included as to the island’s unique access circumstances.

“What we’re looking at here is having the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care fund KI pill distribution,” said Tome.

Tome added that it is not mandatory that Amherstburg residents receive KI pills, but they want to be proactive and ensure residents stay as safe as possible. Anyone else who requests a KI pill should be able to get one, Tome believes.

“We feel our residents deserve KI pills,” he said.

The primary zone would be reduced from 23 km to 16 km, Tome added. He said no one he or anyone else at the fire department has spoken to can find where the 23 km figure came from. The 16 km limit would align with the U.S. plan, he said.