By Dan Rankin
Acting on a recommendation by the Biddulph-Blanshard fire area board, during a meeting on Sept. 1 Perth South council confirmed the appointments of new Fire Chief Steve Toews and Deputy Fire Chief Mike Fletcher for the Blanshard-Biddulph Fire Department.
Longtime fire chief John Damen retired from the Granton-based department at the end of July. In their recommendation for the new executive positions, the fire area board offered thanks to Damen “for his many years of service” to the community.
Mayor Robert Wilhelm said of the new chief, “he’s been on the fire department for quite some time. John certainly didn’t have a problem handing the reins over to Steve.”
The discussion about area fire departments gave Wilhelm cause to reintroduce information presented to council on Aug. 11 by fire protection adviser Nelly Green of the province’s Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM). “We are going to have to do a better job in this township of fire prevention and education,” he said. “Nelly Green pointed out that what we’re providing right now is unacceptable. Basically, she said that we should be having a fire prevention officer go up and down every road in our township over five years and inspect the smoke detectors and CO detectors.”
Coun. Melinda Zurbrigg said she considers the biggest problem for the township on the issue of fire prevention is “that there’s a different level of services provided at all our different fire departments.”
Chief Building Official Martin Feeney also presented his report for the month of August, which showed substantial increases in “both the totals in the estimated building value and permit fees collected” over this time last year, he said. “If this continues, which I expect it to, we should be able to have a surplus to donate to our reserve fund,” he said. “The majority of the building permits issued are in the agricultural sector.” Seven permits were also issued for houses.
The municipality sponsored a potable water truck at the Aug. 15 River Rock Festival west of St. Marys. Though no councillors attended the fest, Coun. Sam Courriveau commented he had heard positive things about the event and its attendance. “I imagine that was money well-spent,” he said.