Saturday, June 1, 2013
The Hazards of Waste- Standing Behind our Fire Department
A community's Fire Department is called “The Fire Department” for a reason. They fight fires and save our lives.
Our fire department is made up of 30 or so volunteers who came forward from our community to give up their time and energy to willingly put themselves in harm’s way to save us and our families in the event of a fire or emergency.
The did sign up for the fire rescue business; they did not sign up to be in the hazardous waste business.
In this past week’s Council meeting, a small but important tidbit was raised by Councillor Pickett regarding the Clarenville Fire Department’s / Town of Clarenville’s refusal to take part in this year’s reformatted
Hazardous Waste Disposal Program. (see this week’s PACKET "No Hazardous waste collection in Clarenville this year: Fire department chooses not to volunteer" May 29, p1 )
This year over 30 volunteer fire departments across the province will be hosting their own communities Hazardous Waste Day(s), in return for $1,000 by the government’s waste management board. Clarenville will not be one of them. This service has traditionally be provided by a certified hazardous waste disposal company and the Town and government contributed to the expense of them coming and setting up in the community for the day. (see PACKET Household hazardous waste collection focusing on smaller communities
Evidently that system was too costly so this year hazardous waste disposal has been downloaded on community volunteer fire departments. That’s not what they signed up for, and evidently in Clarenville’s volunteer fire department, they did not feel that they have the proper capacity to deal with it. Rightfully so, they rejected the offer.
It was argued that this was simply a communications problem – they did not understand. But the misunderstanding went deeper than the fire department. Council appeared unaware of the situation and unaware of the Fire department’s concerns. Council should have known and they should have actively supported them in getting the right information and then supported whatever decision they made.
While it is true that we need an opportunity to dispose of hazardous waste, I want to see it done properly and I certainly don’t want to see it shirked off our volunteer fire department. Government at the Provincial and Town level must ensure that if we are putting people in harm’s way that they know the risks, and the procedures to mediate that risk. In this case it appears that this was not done.
Bravo to the Clarenville Fire Department for doing the right thing,