APAI Letter on Fire

APAI’s attorney, Eric Gillespie, has written another letter to Algonquin.  This one mentions the fire hazard the turbines present to the island residents.  Turbine fires are not that uncommon.  I hear of maybe 10 in a year, and I’m not even paying particular attention.  The fire department on Amherst is strictly volunteer and has limited equipment (see comment below, I’ll let you decide how adequate their equipment is for an industrial environment).  They can’t carry very much water, and there is no water available in significant quantities on most of the interior of the island.  Add to that the necessity of bringing any additional resources over via the ferry and you’ve got a recipe for a major disaster.

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Eric Gillespie Letter to Algonquin, May 31, 2012

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7 thoughts on “APAI Letter on Fire”

  1. Once again APAI can’t tell the truth. The fire Dept on Amherst Island has 3 new trucks that carry a large amount of water and they are highly trained in retrieving water from the many sources set up on the island. The island station is part of Loyalist Township Emergency Services and is highly trained and has many resources at their disposal.

  2. Wow, this is unnecessarily vague and totally skewed. The *current* equipment used by the fire department is quite adequate (if not more) to the *current* status of the island, its residents and its infrastructure. What you’re suggesting here is that the very capable volunteers on the island fire department, not to mention township itself, are so vapid as to completely miss any potential for danger from any – not just wind turbines, but any at all – change in risk factors to the island and its residents. Please, I beg of you, give the great volunteers of the Amherst Island Fire Department a little credit.

    The notion that “Amherst Island’s fire department is volunteer” has anything at all to do with the island vulnerability to fire is outrageous and highly offensive. They serve the population of the island dutifully and I, for one, fully entrust them – including their planning and preparation ability – with my life and property as much today as I will tomorrow and through the completion of the wind turbine project.

    The idea that residents would be trapped on the island in the event of a serious fire due to the *car* capacity of the island is also ludicrous. The notion that island residents would favour escaping with their cars rather than have room enough for all residents to get off the island safely shows a gross misunderstanding of island culture. Furthermore, it doesn’t take almost one hour for a round trip when the ferry is running at full speed. This too shows a failure of understanding of the island and its mechanics. Also, in the event of a disastrous fire (or any such catastrophe as would require it) the Quite Loyalist could be tasked to come to the island – albeit with a noted delay – to help back up the Frontenac II.

    It’s interesting to note that the solicitor decries the small size of the island and yet mentions that the whole of the turbine site is located in isolated locations. Well, with an island that is not but 7km wide that should make getting to water relatively easily. I can think of at least 10 easy to get to locations for filling the pumper truck.

    It’s also worth noting, in the Caithness Windfarm Information accident data that so sensationalizes fire as the second highest risk factor for wind turbines, that the total number of Canadian fires in the entire raw document is 3… and one of them was contained an electrical panel on a turbine in an RCMP parking lot. Three. The document contains at least twice as many documented (Canadian) cases of damage or injury resulting from transportation of the component pieces of the turbines… so it seems to me that they’re safer once they’re in place.

    I’m all for being against the wind turbines, I really am. I think they make lousy economic sense. I think that they’re great scientific instruments and, with some work at improving efficiency they may be able to become a valuable piece of a renewable energy strategy some day; just not today. But I don’t believe in skewing the statistics to suit my argument or fear-mongering to win folks to my side. I really and truly wish that APAI would stop doing that and would, rather, appeal to the sensibilities of islanders rather than resorting to propagandized leaflets and cherry-picked data.

  3. New trucks yes, but new to the island not purchased new. They are used vehicles. There are two fire trucks and a rescue. The rescue truck is not a fire truck but used for medical emergencies. The fire trucks carry approximately 15 minutes of water and a truck relay can be set up to carry more water to the fire. Fire trucks can be sent from the mainland to back up these trucks, but that would take at least 30 minutes. 30 minutes of strong winds and fire could be devastating to the island. There are no lies in this posting. Yes the staff are well trained, but the seclusion of the island does create a unique situation that could endanger lives and homes.

  4. The AI volunteer fire team has 2 new (used) fire trucks, a pumper and a tanker. The third new truck is not a fire truck, it’s a rescue truck. The “new” trucks are passed along to Amherst Island when mainland stations get new trucks.

    There is 15 minutes of water in the current AI pumper after which a water relay from the lake would have to be instituted. The team is trained to perform water relays, but would need back up from the mainland of additional trucks and a grass-fire truck to assist with fighting any fire or fires, if it’s a dry day with a slight wind, as often is the case.

  5. Terry, none of us is doubting the skill of the volunteers. Just FYI, I was a volunteer fireman and EMT myself for a number of years, licensed in Ohio. I’ve been inside burning homes, barns and cars. I’ve fought grass fires and I know how fast they can spread. I know how quickly those smallish (by the latest standards) trucks will run out of water. I agree that the scenario of people desperately trying to leave the island is farfetched. None of us is criticizing the current department.

    Has anyone really thought through what industrializing the island will do to the existing infrastructure? How much money, personnel and time will Loyalist Township be willing to expend to upgrade all the things that need to be upgraded? For example, high angle rescue?

    You ask for APAI to appeal to the islanders’ sensibilities. I’m afraid the time for that is passed. Once the contracts are signed the islanders no longer matter; even the participants are marginalized. One of the few remaining avenues for APAI to follow is to convince Algonquin that this project is too risky for the meager returns it will produce.

  6. More thoughts, for what they are worth. When I first looked at the picture of the 3 trucks, I figured the right-hand vehicle was a modern rescue or brush truck. Nope, it’s a tanker. So on an island where most of the fields are grass or low brush, we apparently don’t even have a brush truck! Something with high clearance, skid plates, 4×4, hundred gallons, couple hundred feet of 1″ hose, extended cab, lots of hand tools. Asking for something like this may be asking too much, but at least something?

    How would you even get the pumper close to a brush fire? Not to mention the tanker. Duncan – how are the equipment decisions made?

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