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Town of Rosemère closes its fire department

Create: 03/21/2016 - 20:53

In a move that caught some in the Town of Rosemère off-guard although others might not have been as surprised given the municipality’s tightening financial picture, Rosemère officials last week announced the closing of their fire department, at the same time as an agreement for fire protection was reached with the neighbouring City of Blainville.
Protection assured, says mayor
“The towns of Rosemère and Blainville ratified a 20-year fire protection agreement according to which Rosemère now becomes part of the territory served by the Blainville Fire Department,” Rosemère officials said in a statement issued on March 7.
“Effective immediately, this agreement complies with all standards and laws applicable to fire protection, including the Fire Safety Cover Plan. Should an emergency arise, citizens are to continue calling 9-1-1 for help from firefighters. This agreement between the two municipalities ensures the presence of firefighters at the fire station 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a result, firefighters’ response time is improved and the safety of citizens is enhanced.
Firefighters were mostly
part-time

“It should be noted that the Rosemère Fire Department operated on a part-time basis, which is to say that 50 per cent of the time firefighters were on call but not present at the fire station,” the statement continued. “The services provided by Blainville fire stations are accessible to Rosemère residents immediately. This holds true for every facet of fire safety: intervention in the event of a disaster, prevention and public education, inspection, etc.
“With this agreement, Rosemerites benefit from full-time services at a much better cost,” said Mayor Madeleine Leduc. “During the period covered by this agreement, citizens will enjoy significant savings. In taking this decision, we had the best interests of the taxpayers at heart, in terms of both safety and cost efficiency.”
Agreement ‘beneficial,’ says Leduc
Leduc described the new arrangement with Blainville as “a highly beneficial agreement. Over the 20-year period covered by this agreement, Rosemèrites will save some $30 million. In fact, Rosemère’s financial contribution will be in the order of $525,500 in 2016, $675,250 in 2017, and $798,775 in 2018. As of 2019 and until the final year of this agreement, Rosemère’s financial contribution will amount to that of the previous year plus a 3.5% increase.”
Leduc noted that the Rosemère Fire Department’s operating budget for 2016 was approximately $2.1 million. She said that closing the rire department with the signing of the agreement with Blainville brings the activities of Rosemère’s fire department to an end. She said termination of employment terms for all firefighters has been established.
“This decision was not taken lightly,” added Leduc. “I wish to thank all the firefighters who have ensured the safety of Rosemèrites over the years and salute their fine work. This difficult decision was necessary, since Rosemère no longer had the financial means to operate its own fire department.
Action mulled by working committee
She said the measure echoes an analysis conducted in 2015 by a strategic working committee established by the town to study the costs and performance of all municipal departments with an eye to optimizing the budget. Leduc said the working committee was mentioned in a speech by the mayor in the 2015 budget.
In an e-mailed question submitted to Leduc through the town’s communications director Daniel Grenier, the North Shore News noted that, to our knowledge, no mention of the action taken with the fire department was ever made during a number of public consultations town officials held with residents in the past year-and-a-half. By deadline earlier this week, we had not received a response.

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Martin C. Barry