Fire chief reminds public city’s firefighters are volunteers
SUMMERSIDE — Firefighters aren’t sitting at one of Summerside two fire stations, waiting for calls to come in, says the city’s fire chief.
© Nancy MacPhee/Journal Pioneer
Art Gerrard stands beside his burned 1998 Buick. Gerrard is upset with how long it allegedly took Summerside Fire Services to respond to the Monday morning fire.
The comment was made in response to concerns raised by city resident Art Gerrard who was upset with how long it allegedly took firefighters to respond to a vehicle fire on his property Monday morning.
Gerrard said it took close to 20 minutes after a 911 call was placed for Summerside Fire Department vehicles to arrive at his Pope Road Extension home.
“It happened right in the yard out front. I boosted the car, she backfired and then she caught fire,” said Gerrard. “My wife called 911 and I dialed 911 on my cell.”
The fire broke out around 10 a.m. The call went to 911’s dispatch in Charlottetown and was sent back to dispatch for Summerside police and fire department.
A police constable was on the scene within minutes and was able to extinguish the gas-fueled fire, leaving the car’s engine to smolder until firefighters arrived.
Gerrard said some firefighters did arrive at his home in their own vehicles but it was almost 20 minutes before fire trucks arrived on scene.
“There is nobody stationed at the fire hall,” said a surprised sounding Gerrard. “I appreciate everything the firemen do but for 15 to 20 minutes to get to a fire in town, that’s a little bit much.”
Chief Jim Peters said all of the city’s firefighters are volunteer and work in the daytime. He acknowledged Monday’s response time was slightly longer than usual.
“We don’t have firefighters sitting at the fire hall. We have to respond from work or wherever they are at,” said Peters. “It just took a little longer this morning.”
The chief was unable to say exactly how long it took from when the call came in until the trucks arrived on scene, adding he would have to review the call recordings.
“Usually we’re four to five minutes within the city. At nighttime it’s sometimes a little better because everyone is close by,” added Peters. “He did mention that ‘you’re right there at the fire hall’. I said, no we’re not. We’re not at the fire hall, everybody’s at work.”
“Everyone sees on TV all these firefighters sitting around the fire hall. We’re not there. We’re at work.”