HRFE and Enfield Volunteer Fire Department Agreement
Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency (HRFE) and the Enfield Volunteer Fire Department (EVFD) are currently negotiating an agreement between our respective fire services to work together and provide emergency services to our communities. This negotiation has prompted conversation and questions from residents.
What is happening right now?
Our respective fire chiefs continue to negotiate towards a renewed agreement. The parties agreed that there would be no changes made to emergency response or to the dispatch services provided by HRM to EVFD during this negotiation. The computer dispatch system which alerts fire crews to emergencies has not been altered.
How did we get here?
The current agreement between the two services was established in 2004. It included an exchange of services and funds. HRFE received assistance from Enfield to provide emergency response to a portion of District 1 (Waverley – Fall River – Musquodoboit Valley) north of the Halifax International Airport and to respond with a ladder truck to the airport, adjacent hotels and industrial park. Consistent with best practices, this agreement included a provision for an annual review and adjustment.
Following a thorough service review and a new Administrative Order (2018-OPS-006) and Emergency Response Time Targets (ERTT) set by Council, HRFE added a crew of 4 fulltime firefighters 24/7 to Fire Station 45 (Fall River) to work alongside our volunteers commencing January 2021. A firefighting ladder truck was also added to that station to address the airport risk. The newly increased firefighting capability in this district has reduced our dependency on EVFD to provide support to the area around the airport. In June 2020 HRFE advised EVFD of the intention to withdraw from the current agreement and negotiate a new one. A joint statement from the HRFE and EVFD chiefs was issued on Jan. 5, 2021 regarding the ongoing negotiations and provided reassurance to residents that no changes to emergency response would be made until the negotiations had concluded.
It is a normal industry practice not only to develop mutual aid agreements but to review and revise them when service needs change. HRFE has many other mutual aid agreements in place along our borders that are in various stages of review and updating. “Mutual Aid” agreements allow each department to come to the aid of the other when requested for emergency response.
What happens next?
Both fire chiefs continue to discuss a renewed agreement. Public safety and emergency response continue to be a priority of both departments, and we are continuing to explore options to reach an agreement. There has been no change to the level of service impacting the residents of the municipality while these negotiations are ongoing. As negotiations continue, HRFE will update residents with new information as it becomes available.
What did this agreement provide?
HRFE provided emergency dispatching services to Enfield for all emergency incidents in their area of service. Additionally, HRFE provided quarterly payments to EVFD to respond to the airport, adjacent hotels and industrial park with an elevated master stream or ladder truck to address potential response risks for this area.
Enfield provided automatic fire response to an area of the municipality north of the airport (known as the “Enfield Fire Protection District”), meaning that EVFD was dispatched to fires to assist HRFE response. In addition, for calls not requiring a full firefighting response such as investigations or medical calls, EVFD responded. The below map highlights the Enfield Fire Protection District.