PORT HARDY FIRE RESCUE PHOTO                                The 2018 Port Hardy Fire Rescue roster.

PORT HARDY FIRE RESCUE PHOTO The 2018 Port Hardy Fire Rescue roster.

Survey says: Port Hardy Fire Rescue deserves on-call pay

75 per cent of those surveyed were in favour of financial compensation for the fire department.

Port Hardy’s fire department compensation survey results are in, and the numbers might surprise you.

Back in March, Port Hardy council sent out a survey to the members of Port Hardy Fire Rescue (PHFR), where 72 per cent of the roster said financial compensation would increase their commitment to the department.

Port Hardy council decided to look at using a paid-on call system for PHFR, and then requested district staff to conduct a short survey to see what taxpayer’s would be willing to provide for a paid-on call service in Port Hardy, which would be additional to the fire department’s current $220,000 operational budget.

Results from the survey are as follows:

226 people took the survey, with the majority being residential property owners;

69.67 per cent who took the survey are residents of Port Hardy;

75 per cent who took the survey are residential property owners in Port Hardy;

5.80 per cent who took the survey are a commercial property owner in Port Hardy; and

2.23 per cent who took the survey own commercial property, but lease it to another.

Ultimately, 75 per cent of people who took the survey were in favour of providing financial compensation to the fire department.

Residential property owner’s contribution will increase between $10.00 and $30.00 annually, while commercial property owner’s contribution will increase between $55.00 and $165.00 annually.

According to the district’s website, “Based on the response from both the Tax Payer Survey and the Fire Member Survey, council has included in the 2018 Financial Plan a paid-on call model. The annual dollar increase to taxation for this service is $36,296.00 which equates to a 1.45 per cent tax increase and is equal to $7.32 per $100,000 of assessment. The average home assessed at $180,000 will pay $13.18 extra annually for this additional service. The Commercial rate is $24.14 per $100,000 of assessment. A business assessed at $300,000 will pay $72.42 extra annually for this additional service.”

Director of Corporate Services, Heather Nelson-Smith, said the turnout for the survey was “a typically normal amount, with a little bit less people than we had for our garbage survey and way less than we had for the pool survey (Port Hardy’s swimming pool survey had 616 people surveyed).”

The fire compensation survey ran from Oct. 18 to the end of November, and Nelson-Smith confirmed the district will be discussing fire department compensation at their financial plan meeting on Jan. 23, which starts at 6:30 p.m.

PHFR Chief Brent Borg thinks a paid on-call model is well deserved for the local fire fighters and will benefit those “who put in the hours during fire calls, training nights, and weekend hall duties.”

“We put in over 10,000 hours a year,” Borg added, stating the compensation is “a starting point — Our previous chief Schell Nickerson started this process and the town is now getting around to giving us a little something.”