The East Ferris Municipal office can now add the Community Risk Assessment to its filesDavid Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

East Ferris’ Fire Chief, Steph Amyotte, completed the Community Risk Assessment and submitted it to council well-ahead of provincial deadlines. The document was due in June of 2024, so the Municipality is ahead of the game.

The provincial government mandates each fire department create a Community Risk Assessment at least every five years and review it annually. A community risk assessment is a process of identifying, analyzing, evaluating, and prioritizing risks to public safety to inform decisions about the provision of fire protection services, the government clarified.

“The risk assessment allows the department and council to make informed decisions,” the Chief explained, “when evaluating risks to the public.”

“We can directly address the identified risks, and make sure that our services match those needs.”

Part of the report details the geographic features of the area. For instance, the railway tracks. The tracks can impact response times and protocols and also increases likelihood of a hazardous materials incident. Having a secondary highway cut through the municipality can also impact travel times to calls.

Living within a large, forested area creates opportunities for remote rescues, and increases the odds of having to deal with a forest fire. There are plenty of walking trails in East Ferris, which increases the risk of having to perform searches through the woods.

Chief Amyotte considered it all and included it within the risk assessment. Most of East Ferris’ residents are between the ages of 45 to 64. Just over half of the population range from 45 to over 85, which suggests the department may need to consider risks more associated with older people. Heart attacks, how limited mobility might affect evacuations, and other issues that could pose risks to residents.

So, the department and council may want to allocate more resources to these concerns. Perhaps push harder on the importance of maintaining smoke alarms and other fire safety messages like having a rehearsed egress plan from your home.

Part of the report lists hazards within the municipality and the risk these pose. Storms top the list, floods are possible, and a forest fire, water rescue and remote (forest) rescue are listed as likely to occur, with a moderate risk level.

See: Remember that East Ferris garage fire? It’s a write-off

Transportation emergencies are listed as unlikely to occur. Buildings collapsing? Explosions and fires? All are listed in the rare category, with a very low risk level.

The lists are compiled from recent experience. For instance, storms are much more common in the municipality than a house fire. But, if the number of fires increases dramatically (heaven forbid), then the risk will rise accordingly in the next report. For example, the Public Works Garage did burn down recently, so now it is listed as a possible fire hazard in this year’s report.

Most calls are medical in nature, about 44 per cent over the past three years. False calls amount to around 7 per cent, and false calls specifically regarding fires amount to 11 per cent of total calls. In 2020 there were 67 calls, and that jumped to 150 in 2021. Last year, there were 170.

“The risk assessment is a living document,” Chief Amyotte said. “We have it completed now, but we could change it tomorrow,” to better reflect the needs of the community, and ensure resources anticipate and meet those needs.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

By David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Oct 09, 2023 at 16:30

This item reprinted with permission from   North Bay, Ontario
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