Length of response time upsets city resident

Nancy MacPhee
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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.

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.”






Organizations: Summerside Fire Department

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Summerside

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Recent comments

  • Gary
    December 06, 2012 - 19:52

    Way to go Billy or should I say Billy Mack attacking our volunteer fire fighters, you are da man- good luck

  • Karen c
    December 05, 2012 - 07:33

    Get a real job Billy......

  • Supporter
    December 04, 2012 - 23:53

    $200.00 a month - $2400.00 a year to get out of bed in the middle of the night and go and risk your life to save people of our community when necessary - whether you call that a volunteer or not to me is irrelevant - I honor our fire fighters and am so thankful we have ones who will give of theirselves for us. I volunteer as well, have for many years but I do not risk my life for any of my volunteer duties - God Bless our Firefighters - may they always be kept safe

  • dee dee
    December 04, 2012 - 22:56

    He is mad that the cops put the fire out and it didnt burn for the 20 minutes the fire dept.took to get there cause the insurance probably would of wrote the car of instead of putting a used engine in it !!!!!!!! wich wont benefit him any the car sat there for how long for sale,it wonder the sun never caught it on fire !!!!

  • billy
    December 04, 2012 - 20:49

    Actually they are not volunteers and they get $200.00 per month and also their vehicle registration is paid for.I volunteer for coaching sports;true volunteers don`t get anything. So everybody off your high horse about ``volunteer`` and what it really means.

  • Supporter
    December 04, 2012 - 16:58

    I totally support our Fire Department, they are doing the very best they can while working to support their families - they have to leave their job, go get the fire truck and go to the destination - if 20 minutes is a problem it's time the powers to be hire one unit to be at the station to respond - there is a lot more money wasted on things within the City - I feel the Firemen we have are doing an excellent job with the situation - we are blessed to have the ones we have willing to leave their jobs, get up in the middle of the night & I am sure their own vacations have to be worked out around their volunteer positions - again let the City hire one crew full time

  • Billy
    December 04, 2012 - 10:06

    Why are the city taxes so high (@1.70 per $100 of assesment) and we have volunteer firefighters. Are the cops volunteer too? how about council???

  • Anon
    December 04, 2012 - 09:31

    Given the fact that the fire was safely controlled by the attending Police officer within minutes of the incident and therefore no longer a major risk to the public or surrounding area, 20 minutes response seems OK to me by a volunteer unit. Perhaps if any City residents would like to double their Tax payment to the City in order to pay for permanent firefighters on staff at the Fire Station. I'm sure Mayor Stewart and the Council would not turn you down. No! Didn't think so....

  • Your fault
    December 04, 2012 - 08:55

    If you had a fire extinguisher, you could've saved yourself a lot of trouble.

  • john
    December 04, 2012 - 05:14

    i drove by and asked myself why would the fire department send a big ladder truck too a car fire. and yes the resue truck was there to.

  • don
    December 04, 2012 - 01:34

    maybe it is time the city big shots cuts down on there meals and pay at least 2 full time firemen or more.but at least one can take a fire truck. but is there not a firemen already paid for 40 hours a week? but i guess the city has him running errands for them.

  • don
    December 04, 2012 - 01:25

    why did the call go to ch'town and not the police station are they not the 911 for this area? just think by the long time in getting there what if a child was trapped in the car or a house? they would be dead. now i think you should do more then sit in the hall at night find out what happened?

  • ssidesam
    December 03, 2012 - 23:56

    Neither boosting a car nor backfiring cause fire. Art Gerard is an old bitty who's upset by everything. You'ld think a guy who works on cars for a living could handle one without letting it start afire.

  • Dev
    December 03, 2012 - 18:47

    You really can't win. If we really did have firefighters just sitting at the hall this, Mr. Gerrard would probably be complaining about where our tax dollars are being spent.

  • Joe Gagne
    December 03, 2012 - 17:36

    Waste of resources, calling the fire dept. YOU should have your own fire extinguisher on premises, Volunteer Fire Dept's are doing their very best and are to be commended on their efforts. AMEN