MR. CHAIRMAN: Good evening. My name is Jon Carey. I am from Kings West and am Chairman of this Fire Safety Committee. It is an all-Party committee and perhaps we can start with introductions, starting with Brian.
[The committee members introduced themselves.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: This is our fifth meeting. At the previous ones we have taken a moment to recognize the loss of the 300 firefighters in the U.S. and to sort of reconfirm the commitment we know that firefighters make every day all around the world. So perhaps we could just take a few moments at this time, in silence.
[One minute of silence was observed.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much.
Welcome to this meeting of the Select Committee on Fire Safety. The select committee is an all-Party committee. We have been charged with the responsibility of making recommendations to the House of Assembly on a new law for fire safety.
We are reviewing proposed changes to the Fire Prevention Act which are contained in Bill No. 58. Bill No. 58 was introduced in the House of Assembly in June 2000. Now the government wants to widen its base of comments from the public and complete the legislation. We are also meeting with Nova Scotians. We would like to hear from the public, as well as people who will be directly affected by the new law, such as insurance companies, and other businesses, municipalities and the fire service. We are meeting in nine communities across the province and this is our fifth meeting.
The input we gather will give us the best possible fire protection legislation for Nova Scotia. The new law will take into account changes in municipalities in the last couple of years. A law can last for years so it is important to get things right from the beginning. Once we have collected and reviewed all submissions, we will make recommendations in a report to the House of Assembly.
Bill No. 58 sets up a framework for fire safety. It assigns responsibilities to individuals and organizations that work to prevent fires, people who fight fires, companies and individuals who own land, insurers, municipalities and provincial government officials like the fire marshal. The bill also sets up an advisory council to advise the Minister of Environment and Labour on matters related to fire safety.
Bulleted details on Bill No. 58:
- written with the intention that it would completely replace the Fire Prevention Act that is now in effect in Nova Scotia
- directs what individuals and organizations in the province must do to prevent fires and how they must act once a fire has occurred
- provides direction for making sure the Fire Marshal's Office has representation in each municipality, important for educating people on how to prevent fires
- helps the fire marshal determine what caused fires. This is important for insurance and crime prevention reasons
- assigns roles to people who are responsible for preventing fires, for putting them out, for reporting fires and for investigating them, the Fire Marshal's Office and the municipalities.
- assigns responsibilities to people or organizations that own land or businesses. These people have certain responsibilities for preventing fires and for reporting fires that do take place. Insurance companies also have responsibilities assigned by the law
- forbids certain activities. For example, if this bill becomes law, it would be against the law to give false information to a fire official investigating a fire or to tamper with a device that would help people escape a burning building
- discusses what regulations the government can write to further protect Nova Scotians from fire and to reduce the harm of fire
- establishes a fire safety advisory council to advise the Minister of Environment and Labour on matters of fire safety.
So this evening we are looking for presentations. They may be written or verbal. If you have any comments that you feel you would like your elected officials to know and to take back to Halifax, we certainly are anxious to hear them. It doesn't have to be a long presentation. Whatever your comments might be concerning the fire safety or involving fire departments in the province, we are interested in your concerns.
At the present time, we have one presenter registered and it is Tom Bremner, so if Tom would come to the microphone. These proceedings are recorded so that we can get the information correctly written, so if you would give your name and position and go from there.
MR. TOM BREMNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am Tom Bremner, Fire Chief for the Town of Amherst, also 1st Vice-President of the Fire Officers Association of Nova Scotia.
Committee members, fellow firefighters and public, thank you for the opportunity to address you this evening. The Fire Safety Bill. Most of this, the committee and the chairman have heard before, I am sure, in travelling around. It has been moving for years and years across this province and I had the pleasure, when it was first being put together, to attend several meetings and travel the province. At this point, I will speak both from the town aspect and the fire services I represented through the fire officers, who were ready for the new Act.
The Fire Safety Bill that is being presented is, in the opinion of myself and many others in this service for a number of years, the best we can do at this time. We need change. We need to modernize and, as you know, the Fire Prevention Act that is presently in place is a very old Act. It needs to have backbone. As a fire chief in a progressive town, I have many challenges day after day that need to have some meat and potatoes behind them so we can deal with the issues that are out there - complexes that are not safe, buildings. As I said, there are so many issues but to go to the Fire Prevention Act that is in place now, compared to what could be in place, is a whole different world. We need this bill passed.
If there is any confusion of what is being labeled as some separation between building inspectors and fire inspectors, we need to stop that. We need to work united in the cause. If there is any misunderstanding by either side, the fire inspectors will be hired down the road. Fire inspectors are in place now. There are great numbers of building inspectors in the province but it seems, in my opinion, there has been a loss. We are not trying to push anybody aside. There is no intention of that. It is to unite, to stay in each other's pockets so we have the safety of the public at hand.
I work closely with the building inspector in the Town of Amherst, and most of the time it is issues that are brought to his attention that end up on my table and I have to act on them because they are more fire safety issues than they are building safety issues as a Building Code. But I need something to back me and that is what this bill would do; it would bring forth modernization and a clear understanding of responsibilities and I think to back up a little
bit, the roles and responsibilities committee of the province should be looking at those details instead of any misunderstanding of the Act overlapping in anybody's yard or territory, that committee could bring forward the actual direction of what is to be done by each group.
We see so many years go by now that this bill has been sitting around, introduced once, left on the table. I would strongly encourage you to bring this in the fall session. We have lots of turmoil within the fire service. This is one that would be cleared up and meet, with pleasure, the fire service members in majority at this time. We have approximately 8,000 firefighters in this province. We have a right to be protected. We have a right that everyone knows their role - government, Fire Marshal's Office, all the players. It is very key to our future. Change is happening as rapidly as anywhere else in the fire service and we need that direction.
We look at the direction of the fire protection. We know that buildings will be built and they must meet the Building Code. Once that Building Code is met, then it is the responsibility of the fire inspectors or the fire service people in general to make sure they meet and are maintained in the Fire Code. That has to be totally recognized as one of the major stumbling blocks, I believe, and why we are meeting again in this process.
Straightforward. There should be no arguments who does what job. We should be working together and I am sure you have heard this many times in many different communities. I would ask you also to realize that the way I understand it, your committee has one mandate, to go out and learn and understand about the Fire Safety Bill, not about any other turmoil that may be in the fire service in this province, which I mentioned earlier, there are numerous issues. I want to make sure you keep it perfectly clear, we deal with the biggest one, and the biggest one for myself and many of my fellow colleagues is the Fire Safety Bill. Get it through the House. Do it for us and the people who need protection.
We have had a great tragedy in New York that wasn't the result of safety issues in the respect that we are looking at but if we fail to remember that the safety issues are the most important things we are addressing in this bill, then we will not succeed in anything. I would again reiterate that if we drag this on a whole lot longer, we are going to totally frustrate very positive notations that have been made in the bill and very positive personnel that have been involved. Again, if you travel four, five and six years and wait for something to be done, it is exhaustive, it has covered every issue that it can.
May I ask a question?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Go ahead.
MR. BREMNER: When your mandate was put down, were you given a direct set of questions you were to look for besides just the issue of what the public may want to say?
MR. CHAIRMAN: We were to come out and simply gather information. We were given no specifics, although we have discussed the bill with different groups. We met with the fire marshal prior to coming out and were informed of various things and everyone, of course, had the bill presented to them and Greg Clark was in with the advisory council but for specific questions, no.
MR. BREMNER: I think you have got my message. I think it is loud and clear. I wait for some positive movement. As a person who makes my living protecting the public of Nova Scotia in my town and other communities, which I have colleagues here, I again ask you, please take this message back loud and clear. We need this Act. We can deal with other things down the road but if we don't have the Act, what is in place now doesn't define and is not modern, so we need it. Thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Does any member have questions? Russell.
MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Not so much a question, Mr. Chairman, as an observation. I want to compliment yourself, Tom. I have had the pleasure of working with you over the years on this particular issue and I know you have put a lot of work into it, your entire team of volunteers and on the advisory council. I concur exactly with the observation you made. I think without belabouring the point, what you have said is self-explanatory.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Graham.
MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Last night in Truro, or actually precisely in Salmon River, we heard a presentation from a building inspector who I don't think would disagree with your observation that the most important thing is to work together. His concern, and I want to try to say it almost exactly the way he said it, was that currently under the Fire Prevention Act there is no confusion about the respective role of the building inspector versus the fire inspector and that he was afraid that the new Act would introduce confusion by not making it clear of the respective roles of the fire inspector and the building inspector. So he was afraid that the new Act would introduce confusion that doesn't currently exist. I wonder if you would care to comment on that.
MR. BREMNER: Well, I find that a bit hard to swallow without knowing exactly where he is coming from on that because he is an active building inspector, I assume, at this point and I have talked to many of them over many years. There has never been, and has not been to me at this point any directive that there is going to be confusion. Common sense plays a large factor and we have a job to do. Both of them are inspection jobs but in my terminology it is clear and simple, when you look in the Building Code, it gives you what the building must meet to be a safe building in today's standards.
Again, to back up to what I said before, once that building is built, then we, as the fire service, maintain and take it from there. I don't think that leads to any confusion. There are
definitely overlapping areas but I just can't imagine any person justifiably causing grief to each other in the areas of overlapping inspections. I don't know where the gentleman would come from. It would be hard to know without talking to him for a certain period of time.
MR. STEELE: One example that he gave was a situation where the building inspector reviews drawings and comes to a certain conclusion under the Building Code about things like sprinkler systems. He said it is not helpful to the building inspector, certainly not to the building owner, if the fire inspector comes in and perhaps draws a different conclusion and issues an order that is different from the order of the building inspector.
This building inspector who spoke to us last night, he thought that an important value here was with certainty that building owners are entitled to a certain amount of certainty so that if they are proposing a new building and they get an order from the building inspector or a decision, an interpretation of the Building Code, they shouldn't expect anyone else to come in and come to a different conclusion. He believed - I hope I am not misunderstanding or misquoting him - that the new Act might introduce precisely that kind of confusion. Does that clarify any better, sir, where he is coming from?
MR. BREMNER: I would deal with that in two phases. One, in my view - and I am sure it is shared by many - is when it is a drawing issue and a building issue, it goes to the building inspector for approval. At that point, if he wants fire participation, he should be requesting it. Otherwise, he approves it as he sees in the Building Code. Once it is an issue of a building is built and you are going to do it, again that is when you work combined, together, which I do in the Town of Amherst on a daily basis in many ways and shapes and forms. They get a call, the building inspectors, they request us to go with them. It is not unusual. Maybe what he is saying is that there is interference from a particular individual.
What is unclear now in the Act is, who is responsible for what, but I don't see it as being unclear in the new bill. It says, I believe, on the very first page, a building inspector is one who follows the National Building Code Act. It doesn't intervene that the fire service takes any part of that.
MR. STEELE: This particular inspector is a member of the Building Officers Association of Nova Scotia and you are an executive member of the Fire Officers Association. Have there been any meetings between the two associations to see if there is a meeting of the minds about issues like this?
MR. BREMNER: I have not participated in any and I am personally not aware. There may have been but I wasn't involved in any at this point. I have heard rumours, like everyone else, that there has been overlapping in certain communities of one trying to do the other's job but that is where it should stop. That should not happen. That is not what the Act is about. The Act is to clear that up and that is the point I want to make. If that gentleman thinks that is happening, I think he would be very well to take in and look at what this Act is
supposed to do. Again, break them apart. This job is that person's job and this person's job is here. Roles and responsibilities, bottom line, nothing else.
Could I ask a question?
MR. STEELE: Oh, please.
MR. BREMNER: Did you hear that in any other communities you visited that there was such a concern?
MR. STEELE: It was the first meeting I attended so I would have to ask other members of the committee.
MR. BREMNER: So it seems to be an isolated question and maybe an isolated situation.
MR. STEELE: I have other questions but I will defer to other members.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We have Fire Marshal Bob Cormier with us tonight. Bob, would you like to make a comment on that? We need as much clarification . . .
MR. ROBERT CORMIER: I think this is a point that is worthwhile making because I am sure you are going to hear it on a number of occasions following your opportunity to meet in the communities. It will either be written submissions or a separate submission. I understand you are meeting with the Building Code Advisory Committee, of which I am a member, on October 17th, so certainly these issues will come forward.
The concept behind plans - and I am starting at the very beginning, before the building is built - examination is that both the fire official and the building official review plans to ensure that the fire safety aspects are met as well as the Building Code requirements are met. The fire safety aspects have as much to do with a lot of things that are of no concern to the building inspector, such things as the ability of the local fire department, the type of occupants that are going to be in that building, the activities that they are going to undertake, items such as that that the fire inspector is supposed to be involved in. The fire inspector is an advisor to the building inspector at that point in time.
At the present time - and this comes previous to 1988 when we had the provincial Building Code Act - all plans outside of single family and two family dwellings are required to be submitted to the Fire Marshal's Office. Plans were also required to be submitted to the building inspector. So, yes, there are times when the building inspector receives plans, the Fire Marshal's Office receives plans and there could be two different opinions on the plans.
Under the proposed Act, the Fire Marshal's Office will no longer have authority to approve building plans. What we will be doing is reviewing those plans that have a direct impact on the province - nursing homes, residential care facilities, things where I have to give approval for them to be used and the manner in which they are used. We will review those if there is a permit taken out for them and the Province of Nova Scotia does not always take out permits on buildings. They are not covered under the Building Code Act. If there is a permit taken out, the Act says I must advise the building inspector of our information and what our expectations are. The building inspector is then responsible to ensure that the Building Code requirements are met.
We do have situations where buildings get built and equipment is not installed for one reason or another, not the building inspectors' fault and certainly not other people's but it does occur. When that occurs and the fire inspector goes in and it is a large building and it requires a fire alarm, the fire inspector has the right to expect that fire alarm to be put in. This creates animosity and problems, there is no doubt about it. The solution to that is that the fire and building inspectors carry on a joint inspection, a final. The building inspector now hands it over to the fire inspector who is responsible for the rest of the life of that building. That way there is no second guessing. The fire inspector is saying, yes, we have everything we need so there are no orders required in order to complete it.
On a particular issue that was brought up last night, my staff had been in direct consultation with the individual and what had happened was, they were in that vicinity of that building on another matter and a contractor approached them and asked them the solution they had come up with and my staff discussed it with them. That is where the crossover came. My staff and the building inspector were both in agreement as to what the outcome was to be but it was my staff who informed the contractor. (Interruption) Not the dairy barn, that is a different situation. I haven't come to grasp with that one yet.
MR. STEELE: I don't recollect that the building inspector was actually talking about any one particular building.
MR. CORMIER: It was brought up, but anyway all I am saying is the situations are there. What we have done is split that. There is no overlap now. The one place that is a concern is - and we approached and worked with Municipal Affairs very closely on this - if a fire inspector presently orders work to be done on a building because there aren't adequate exits or whatever it happens to be - and these are normally buildings that have been around for a while - the order that is made goes to the owner. The owner carries out the repairs. What we are going to require is he must take out a building permit in order to carry out those repairs.
Now, the way we work in some municipalities with the fire inspector, we will order an exit put on and, by the way, the building inspector quite often calls us in. I just did an appeal on an apartment building where the building inspector called us in to look after it for
him because they were unable to do it. We require the work to be done but the individual must take out a permit. The building inspector has a right to comment on a permit, but the fire official at the end of the day is responsible to ensure that that work is done. It is done under the Fire Prevention Act. There is some confusion.
Some individuals feel that because the building inspector is involved that it should go back to the Building Code. We can't take it back to the Building Code because that is not a 1995 building. That is not a new building. What we are doing there is trying to meet fire safety, not bring it up to a new building. So there is a difference there. So there is a very defined split between the responsibilities of the building inspector under the Building Code Act of the Province of Nova Scotia and the fire inspector under the Fire Safety Bill.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Do you have a question?
MRS. MURIEL BAILLIE: Yes, first of all I want to thank you for your positive comments tonight. It is nice to hear some positive comments. I also like the part of working together. I think that is very important in all walks of life, especially in government today, working together.
My concern is more with the volunteer firefighters. Sitting through these sessions, as the fire chiefs or members from the fire departments come and speak, they seem to think that we are putting a lot on volunteer people and if we continue we won't have volunteers. They talked about how expensive it is to train firefighters. They talked about not being able to have people on the back of a fire truck anymore. They also spoke about if - now I think this is right - the fire marshal does not think that the fire chief is competent, he can elect or appoint someone himself. My question to you is - and you seem to think that once this bill is passed all those things will work themselves out - do you see any of those concerns in the fire departments, or how would you speak to those?
MR. BREMNER: Let me return to my earlier comment. I believe your mandate was to deal with the Fire Safety Bill. Those issues that you are addressing me on, ma'am, are not Fire Safety Bill issues. Those are internal issues that may happen in fire stations. Those are issues that are out there and what I referred to earlier about other frustrations, those are the frustrations that happen in different communities throughout our province. Those will not be cured by this bill, but the people who need a directive and a responsibility to do the job will be covered by this Act. There will be direct legislation saying this is where this sits, this is where that sits.
For the issues you brought up in the later part, the riding of the fire truck, dealing with the Fire Marshal's Office, the other things, those are local issues that you will find varied in every community and those will have to be addressed by local governments and local fire services to deal with those.
MRS. BAILLIE: So this bill has nothing to do with it. That is what you are saying.
MR. BREMNER: No, ma'am.
MRS. BAILLIE: Okay, thank you, sir.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Kerry, did you have any questions?
MR. KERRY MORASH: Yes, probably to follow along with what Mrs. Baillie was talking about. In sitting through the meetings so far, I have had a concern probably with the communications with regard to the Fire Safety Bill and I have heard that this has gone on for a long period of time. I also realize how difficult it is to communicate with all the volunteer fire departments and the different departments that are around but it has become apparent that an awful lot of people aren't fully aware of the Fire Safety Bill, regardless of how long it has been in the making, and also are confusing the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations for paid firefighters with the Fire Safety Bill. Also, from a municipality point of view with regard to appointing fire inspectors, they have had some concerns that they would have to appoint a fire inspector now and it is my impression that they have had to do that for a number of years anyway. There just seems to be a lot of confusion over all these things. I am just wondering, could you give us any advice as to what we might be able to do or anyone might be able to do to try to clarify some of these things, just because we see it as a problem even though it isn't the direct mandate of this committee?
MR. BREMNER: You have directed about four different issues to me all in one short paragraph and I will try to deal with them the best I can. I was fortunate enough to be a volunteer for 25 years before I took the full-time position. We can travel this province and hear each and every one of the last two questions that were asked to me in every fire station throughout. We have a high turnover of volunteers in this province so one gentleman is leaving knowing a little bit about the Fire Safety Bill, it is put to rest for a while, and when a new member comes in, he really doesn't know much about it. That can be at any level, an officer, a volunteer or any other person who comes in the service.
When it comes to what will be dealt with by this bill, I state again, it will be for the people who are in government positions and authority positions to have backbone to what is requested to be done through the Municipal Government Act and through this legislation. It does say there shall be a fire inspector. I would ask this committee, what has government and what have the municipalities done that don't have fire inspectors? It has been in the Act, shall have fire inspectors. I can count them on two hands, I would say, how many fire inspectors in most municipalities there are and you know we don't have the backing of some of the local governments that we should. With this, it gives us some clear directives.
MR. MORASH: Maybe if I could ask just one more question on a communications point of view. If Bill No. 58 were enacted tonight, if it became law tonight, how would the different people who I mentioned who have some confusion over the bill, how would we communicate the contents of the bill to help them understand and help them make Nova Scotia a safer place for firemen and for buildings and for people in the public?
MR. BREMNER: I am not sure that you can but they can if they want to take an interest. There is a difference between being a volunteer with education and being a volunteer. If someone wants to move up and take responsibility for legislative things, they have to study it. You could travel to many volunteer fire services in this province, and there are a number in each department who understand the legislative side of it, but there are many who are there because they are strictly volunteers, to respond to the emergency issues. So you have to understand that there are two sides of the fence but for the people who are administrative, the administration is in that legislation. They will know where to go to get issues dealt with.
MR. CORMIER: I will just add that we have a program called roles and responsibilities that includes the Municipal Government Act, because their authority for fighting fires comes from there; the Fire Prevention Act; the Motor Vehicle Act; the Workers' Compensation Act; the Volunteer Services Act, which is their protection. We have a program on that. We have to present that at least every three years to the fire chiefs so that we constantly have them aware of what the Act is. This communications program, even the 1976 Act is not understood by a number of the volunteer fire chiefs.
MR. MORASH: So if the fire chiefs in Nova Scotia now have been constant for a three year period or longer, all of them would have received some training from your office.
MR. CORMIER: That is correct. On this one, what it does is the fire chief will not hold the authority to carry out certain activities under the Fire Prevention Act until they have received that training. That is our enticement to get them in, to get that understanding, because right now what the Act says is that as soon as the fire chief is elected, they become a local assistant to the fire marshal which gives them basically the same powers I have which is tremendous powers, especially in an emergency situation. So we don't want that just given carte blanche. They have to at least have an understanding of what their authorities and responsibilities are.
MR. MACKINNON: Just one follow-up to my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, just on a point of clarification, a question to Mr. Cormier. Last evening the building inspector who he referenced tonight, indicated that he was in favour of switching an appeal of any decision of the fire marshal or deputy fire marshal or any employee therein, should be appealable to the minister and not to the court. What is your view on that? I know where it stands in the existing legislation but I was a little surprised to hear him say that he would be more in favour of politicizing that process.
MR. CORMIER: The individual may not understand the full process of administrative law to start, but basically the process is to try to keep the activity as inexpensive for the person who wants to appeal and as fast as possible. Certainly in my meetings with the red tape committee today, one of the concerns is any improper or unjustified activity that creates economic problems for the entrepreneur.
In going to the minister, the minister himself is not going to make that decision. They are not a building or fire inspector and even an attempt to weigh the information before them would be very difficult because it is normally a technical issue. So it would be like asking a minister, who has no legal background, to rule on a legal matter. You have to have the background to understand it. So the appeal process presently in place, one of the things that some of the individuals are a little bit hesitant about is that the first level of appeal is to the fire marshal himself. What we found with that is it cleans a tremendous amount of the issues up very cheaply and very quickly because it can do that within a couple of days. I have ended up ruling both ways. Even when it is my own staff, they do make mistakes and when they do, it has to be rectified. The second level of appeal is to a full appeal body. That, in some cases, can take a little bit of time.
So based on the fact that it has to be an independent body, it has to have some understanding of the issues and it must be able to draw conclusions or provide a solution, that is a technical issue and therefore has to be a technical body to make those decisions. That is one of the reasons for the appeal process that we have, as cumbersome as it is at times.
MR. MACKINNON: So you are in favour of keeping that type of appeal process?
MR. CORMIER: It has worked very well for the Building Code issues that have been brought forward, and I sit on a number of those, and it has worked in all the other jurisdictions as far as Fire Code issues go.
MR. MACKINNON: The idea is to keep politics out of fire safety.
MR. CORMIER: That is correct. It is a neutral body.
MR. MACKINNON: Yes. One final question, since we seem to be a little strong on time, the regulations, obviously, are the working component of any Statute. Has there been any effort toward drafting regulations?
MR. CORMIER: There was a rough set of drafts for the regulations. They were in line with the regulation outline that was submitted with the Act. They follow the basic principles that I have discussed and that is the division of responsibility between building and fire marshal, a building official and the Fire Marshal's Office, division between the municipal responsibilities, the province's responsibility and the school board and private industry.
MR. MACKINNON: Would you, Mr. Fire Marshal, through you, Mr. Chairman, be prepared to recommend to the minister that these draft regulations be provided to members of the Legislature and perhaps even to various volunteer fire departments across the province, to be able to make sure that I realize what the legal process is but certainly it would be a help, I would think, to address some of the misunderstanding that my colleague, the member for Queens, and certainly my colleague, the member for Pictou West, . . .
MR. CORMIER: Certainly from the regulations, there is nothing that has to do with the fire departments operations as an organization.
MR. MACKINNON: But certainly from a policy . . . .
MR. CORMIER: That will spell it out.
MR. MACKINNON: But it would certainly help to clarify the understanding for those who are not . . .
MR. CORMIER: There should not be a difficulty with that. That initial set went out to numerous individuals for review and comment back so that it should not be difficult to send that to you. Again, it is in very rough draft form. It has not even been through legal yet.
But it does lay out some of the concepts that do lie within the regs.
MR. MACKINNON: I think given the uniqueness and the importance of this particular piece of legislation, as Mr. Bremner has indicated, time is of the essence to ensure the value. I think that would be very helpful. Thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Graham.
MR. STEELE: I have another question for Tom. Before I do, I just wanted to echo what Russell was saying, that it is always helpful when the Legislature is being asked to pass legislation to contemplate regulations for the members of the Legislature to have a pretty good idea of what the regulations are going to say because in this day and age it is very common for really skeleton Acts to be passed. We don't really know how it is going to be implemented and practiced without the regulations. So anything you can do to help move those forward so that not only we but others can see the complete package would be very helpful.
My question, turning to Tom, also last night we heard from the Chief Administrative Officer for the local municipality in Salmon River, the Municipality of the County of Colchester. He said that if his municipality is going to, as they certainly intend to do, implement the new legislation properly and conscientiously, it would impose a certain additional cost on their municipality. I know you are not the chief administrative officer of your municipality but do you have any information or thoughts on whether your fire service
or your municipality will incur additional costs as a result of implementing the proposed Fire Safety Act?
MR. BREMNER: It is according to the angle they take. We have full-time staff in the community that I am chief of and it may incorporate some of those people on a cost recovery basis to certain outside areas or they may hire a fire inspector separate. They may hire one jointly with a county and the town. As for what implications it will have is according to how it is delivered jointly or however it is set up in cost recovery.
MR. STEELE: On the subject of cost recovery, if I am understanding you right, you are just pointing out that one of the options available to the municipality is that if any additional costs are incurred that that could be passed on to the building owner, for example.
MR. BREMNER: I am not sure how they would handle it. If it is an outside agency, if it happens to be the town I represent and we go outside under a contract, there would be some kind of payment arrangement but as we know, someone has to be paid to do it, right?
MR. STEELE: So would you say that it is likely or possible or just that you are not sure whether additional costs will be imposed. Let's leave aside the question of cost recovery or whether it would be added to municipal taxes or some kind of user fee.
MR. BREMNER: Obviously, if you hire someone, you are going to pay them.
MR. STEELE: Do you think it is probable or possible that somebody additional is going to have to be hired in order to implement this Act?
MR. BREMNER: That is an internal decision that would have to be made. The MGA and others say that there is to be a fire inspector.
MR. STEELE: Okay, fair enough. Thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Do we have any other presenters? If there are no others, perhaps I would ask Murray, as the host MLA, to conclude our evening.
HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and just before I do, if I could, I would like to recognize Fire Chief Terry Porter of the Springhill Fire Department who is here with us this evening and as well Fire Chief John Fredericks of Pugwash is here and His Worship Mayor Doug Robinson of Parrsboro.
I would like to thank, as well, the committee for coming to this area of the province, Cumberland County, to allow people in the fire service and the community to have an opportunity to come forward and make presentations and share issues and concerns with the committee in regard to the new Fire Safety Act. I do want to say that although we may be
small in number in regard to presentations tonight, I think a lot of times the same thing doesn't have to be said over and over again by 100 people that one or two people can say very strongly and very clearly, which I think has been the case here this evening with the chief from Amherst.
You don't have to be a firefighter in this province, and I know the people around this table feel the same way because I have heard them speak in the Legislature about this very issue, but you don't have to be involved in the fire service personally, yourself, to respect very much what the people throughout this province, for the majority of the time, give voluntarily of themselves. This county is no stranger to, for example, we have seen seven people, emergency responders, leave this county and go to New York and put their lives and families behind them to go to an area to assist people who very much needed them. This community of my own right here, 40-some years ago we had disasters where firefighters from all over the province came here and stood by families and the mines for days on end. The training and equipment back then I am sure didn't compare to what we have today in this province.
I heard mention this evening about how do you keep people in the fire service? Harold Nicholson, who some of you have met here this evening, 49 years in this fire department. Dean Emmerson celebrated the other evening 40 years in Oxford. I think those people have a lot of history and probably could share a lot with us but how do we, in the future, encourage people to stay with the fire service and provide a service like that to these communities? I think very simply put, it is by listening to what is being said, what was said here this evening, what you can hear throughout the province and by offering our support as politicians and as policy makers and ensure that their voices are heard and ensure that if this is what is needed to ensure that we have a safe community, safe province, that we have to do what we can to ensure that the concerns that they brought forward are addressed and are brought forward in this new bill.
On behalf of the people I represent I want to thank the committee for coming here. I want to thank the people who took the time to come this evening and, as I say, I think a lot is said most times in a very short, few words and I think that was here tonight. I think the message is clear and I am sure that the comments and the concerns brought forward tonight will be taken into consideration when the final analysis of this whole process is done.
Mr. Chairman, and the committee, I would like to thank you for coming and wish you all the best in your endeavours and your travels throughout the province. Thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much and thank you all for coming out this evening.
[The committee adjourned at 7:48 p.m.]