For years we have been working to get fire department coverage for our Sunfish Lake area from the new City of Waterloo full-time fire hall on Columbia Street in addition to the Wilmot Township volunteer fire halls in Baden and New Hamburg. It has been a brutally rough process and taken a dismal amount of time however, thanks to the City of Waterloo and significant efforts from Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky along with Waterloo Fire Chief Richard Hepditch we now have the cross boundary agreement in place and if your primary residence or any significant structure on your property is on fire the 911 operators are to dispatch both the City of Waterloo Fire Department along with the Wilmot Fire Services. You can read the attached newspaper article below for more information.
If you are part of the northern portion of Sunfish Lake who also pay $150/year in extra property taxes to Wellesley Township for cross boundary response services you will apparently also have Wellesley fire trucks dispatched from St. Clements and Wellesley too. Wellesley Township Fire Departments will respond to any sort of emergency whereas the City of Waterloo Fire Department will only respond to structural fires – not car accidents, nor heart attacks, strokes, brush fires, nor any other sort of emergency most likely to happen so it is still worth us continuing to pay the $150/year premium.
While we have yet to even meet with the new Wilmot Fire Chief despite significant ongoing efforts, Waterloo Chief Hepdtich and his crews have been spending considerable time on ensuring they know our area and can respond as quickly as possible. They have prepared run cards, detailed maps, GPS co-ordinates, photo files, and a very detailed database of our area. The Chief hopes to have every single Waterloo fireman out to our area to see it firsthand in daylight hours and you may have already encountered Waterloo fire crews and trucks in the area.
We have also been testing with real fire trucks to ensure that they can get down our laneways and to our properties (see photos below). While the north laneway into Sunfish Lake currently has the required clearances with the exception of the final 100m to the Guy’s and Lackner’s, the two Southern Laneways have some issues and the Fire Department is asking that we clear them to a minimum clearance of 3.6 m (12 feet) wide and 5.5 m (18 feet) tall to avoid damaging their fire trucks and equipment. Perhaps the residents of each laneway can work amongst themselves to figure out how to ensure their laneways meet these requirements. Any grading improvements, turn around areas, pot hole filling, etc. would also be appreciated by the fire crews.
Overall, it is fantastic to finally be receiving this improved fire coverage. It may even result in a discount on your property insurance. While not perfect – too many of our neighbours still aren’t covered, it doesn’t apply to most of the types of emergencies that we are most likely to have, etc. – it is still a considerable improvement.
We will continue to work with the fire departments on the implementation and rollout. I have meetings in the coming weeks scheduled with Chief Hepditch again and there are things such as dry hydrants that they are going to provide us with their specifications for so that we can construct some in the optimal locations around Sunfish Lake (where their trucks can access them) to help provide easy access to water sources in emergencies.