Editorial: Donation deserves better than out-of-place outrage

Donations aren’t known to be controversial.

Typically, when a community group raises funds or offers a donation to a municipality, the donation is accepted with open arms and grateful hearts. Residents will thank the group for their efforts, recognizing how fortunate they are to live in an area with such caring organizations. Elected officials often publicly recognize these donations and organizations, praising the group for their dedication to the community. The donation is made and the municipality is better because of it. That’s how this usually works.

Apparently the rules are different when it comes to firefighters and potentially life-saving equipment.

We want to preface this by acknowledging that in many, many situations we’ve had the pleasure of seeing Brock residents applaud and celebrate the generosity of their community members and organizations. There are plenty of good people here doing good things and we don’t want to belittle any of that. It all makes Brock a better place and isn’t that our common goal?

Well, last Friday (March 9), the Beaverton Firefighters Association announced their intention to do just that. They wanted to go above and beyond their usual efforts — you know, extinguishing fires and saving people — and decided to purchase an aerial unit for the Township. They bought it using money they raised. They bought it because, as Brock’s fire experts, they believe it will be a benefit to this community.

Read more: Survey says Brock residents want increased fire service

Although we’ve been mulling over this issue for a few days now, we’re still baffled as to how this has been turned into a negative story by some on social media. This is a donation of potentially life-saving equipment. What could people possibly be upset about?

Since the post went live early Friday morning, we’ve seen online comments questioning and criticizing this decision by the Firefighters Association.

One resident questioned the safety of the unit, a legitimate concern.  Risking their lives entering burning buildings is more than what anyone could ask of their friends, family and neighbours — we don’t want them using a piece of equipment that could further jeopardize their safety.

That said, these firefighters, the ones who would be using the unit, are the very people who voted to purchase and donate it. They’ve done their homework, they’ve had it certified. If they’re comfortable using it, why should Brock residents be anything but grateful to have this available when their home, God forbid, catches fire?

Read more: Recommendations from former firefighter include Township purchase of aerial truck

The other concern we’ve seen is that one firefighter — a false claim, the association voted — decided to go out and do this on his/her own after council had decided the Township didn’t need an aerial unit, another questionable statement.

It’s true, council did not include the purchase of an aerial unit in this year’s budget. However, such a purchase has been penciled in for 2021, indicating the Township understands the benefit of such a unit, despite it not being considered a 2018 budget priority.

If council decides something is not a budget priority, does that mean private citizens should not raise funds to purchase and donate the item? That’s not a rule we’re familiar with and if it’s written anywhere, we’d love to see it.

By that logic, if an organization asks council to develop a playground but council doesn’t think it’s a budget priority, that organization shouldn’t be allowed to fundraise for such a project. Are we going to start objecting to those types of donations?

It sounds preposterous but that’s what’s happening in this case, although generally speaking, the reaction to this offering from the Association has been overwhelmingly positive.

According to the Oct. 23 report from LPQ Solutions, “Next to fire stations, the largest investment made by a municipality in its fire service are the fire service vehicles…What a municipality purchases is dependent on the services supplied by the fire department, along with adhering to industry standards and best practices relating to vehicle type, function and replacement criteria.”

The same report notes, with respect to aerial units, “This type of apparatus is typically needed to provide a reasonable level of response within a community when buildings of an increased risk profile (fire) are permitted to be constructed within the community.”

Furthermore, as per the National Fire Protection Association, referenced in the LPQ report, “The fire department should be prepared to provide the necessary response of apparatus, equipment and staffing to control the anticipated routine fire load for its community.”

Now, with the offer coming forth from the Firefighters Association, the Township has the opportunity to provide this type of apparatus at no cost to the taxpayers.

At the end of the day, when this donation is offered at next week’s meeting, it will be up to council whether to accept it. Councillors, voted in by the citizens of Brock Township, will have the freedom to vote against receiving this potentially life-saving gift. That is there prerogative. However, if that’s how they vote, we hope they can provide a thorough explanation. The firefighters who risk their lives, and the residents expecting their emergency services to be equipped to keep them safe, deserve it.




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