Local government

New analysis will gauge fire risk for Ontario

ONTARIO – Clint Benson, Ontario Fire & Rescue chief, wants the public to know exactly what it is paying for when it comes to emergency services.

That’s why he said he is excited about a recent decision by the Ontario City Council approving $25,000 for a study to measure fire risk and gauge his department’s strengths and weaknesses.

“From a response perspective, it helps us identify the risk in our community. But it is really for the public. It shows them the risk the fire department is responsible for protecting,” said Benson.

The Ontario Rural Fire Department will chip in $25,000 for the $50,000 study, said Benson.

“The study will measure our response abilities versus the risk we are responsible for protecting,” said Benson.

Emergency Services Consulting International of Virginia will conduct the study, will include feedback from residents.

“They will be boots on the ground and meet with the public and stakeholders and educate the taxpayer on exactly what we do,” said Benson.

“I think a lot of folks don’t know what we really do and what we are up against. This will tell our customers this is what we do with what we have,” he said.

Benson said his department welcomes as much feedback as it can collect.

“The more folks understand how we operate, the better. They are the ones paying for it,” he said.

Benson said the study can also be used to seek grants for department costs.

The risk assessment will help the department train for emergencies.

“The beauty of it is it asks the taxpayer, are you good with this level of fire protection? It may show we are fine where we are. But it just won’t be coming from me,” said Benson.

“There is a lot of push to fund public safety and to grow but we need a really good picture of what we have,” said Benson.

Benson said he isn’t sure when the study will kick off but the first step will be providing information to the consultants.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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