Property owners will be 'big losers' in West Hants fire services dispute

Carole Morris-Underhill
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

John Redden, the public fire protection specialist at Fire Underwriters Survey for the Atlantic Canada region, says county residents should brace for higher insurance premiums if the Windsor Fire Department and West Hants council can't reach an agreement before the WFD terminates service June 30.

Expert predicts higher fire insurance rates if WFD terminates service June 30

Windsor's pending termination of fire service to West Hants has piqued the interest of insurance companies and fire protection specialists across the country.

And, if the June 30 deadline comes to pass without the two parties reaching a truce, an expert is predicting many homeowners and businesses will see their insurance rates skyrocket over the coming year.

John Redden, a public fire protection specialist at Fire Underwriters Survey for the Atlantic Canada region, said he's been keeping an eye on the situation brewing in the county, as has his colleagues across the country. They're planning for the worst.

“I can assure you, the grades are going to change,” said Redden if the pending separation comes to pass.

When a fire grade changes, it impacts the insurance rate for the area.

Although Town of Windsor property owners will not likely see any change in their rates, the same can't be said for the outlying areas currently receiving fire protection from the Windsor Fire Department.

“First off, if Windsor gives up service then what we're going to end up with is a large area in both Falmouth and Three Mile Plains, Newport Station and St. Croix that no longer are going to have a protection grade from our perspective,” said Redden.

No protection grade, or even a class nine grade, will result in a considerable hike in insurance costs. That increase will occur regardless if West Hants implements Plan B, which is to rely on the existing neighbouring fire departments to provide coverage to the unprotected areas, or if the municipality builds a fire station right away. The earliest the poor grade could be adjusted would be in about three years.

“We don't set insurance costs. I want to make that clear. What we set is a grade. Insurance companies use our grades in their logarithm to develop the cost,” said Redden.

For a commercial property valued at about $300,000 in the WFD's extended coverage area, Redden said the property owner would currently pay around $1,235 to $1,300 in fire insurance.

But, if a deal isn't reached by June 30 at noon to prevent the service interruption, the area will be downgraded from a class five to a class nine or 10. Redden said upon renewal of their insurance, the commercial property owner could anticipate a bill for $2,700 to $3,000.

“They are enjoying a fair commercial break,” said Redden of the properties currently covered by the WFD.

As another example, a homeowner in Falmouth with a property replacement valued at $375,000 would pay roughly between $1,300 and $1,400 in fire insurance.

“If we move them to an unprotected (grade), they're looking at $4,188 — that's a 210 per cent jump,” said Redden.

Even homeowners with smaller properties, like those valued in the $100,000 range, will feel the sting of the unprotected grade change. If they pay between $475 and $500 annually, Redden said that rate would increase to about $1,400 per year.

“It'll probably take a year to a year and a half for it to be reflected in a lot of insurance policies,” noted Redden.

When asked if his projections are accurate, Redden noted: “I'm not doing any fear mongering.”

He said the rates will only change drastically like this if WFD ceases service to the county.



Concerns around the county

Redden said property owners in Brooklyn's main coverage area, as well as Summerville's coverage area and Hantsport's coverage area won't likely see a change in their rates.

However, the same cannot be said for the outlying areas.

Areas of particular concern, he said, would include properties from Hartville Road to the Windsor town boundary, the industrial park by Highway 101, Falmouth, and the properties along Chester Road heading to Vaughans — to name a few.

If ties between the WFD and municipality are severed, the commercial enterprises along Wentworth Road — like the restaurants, gas stations, exhibition and motel — would be classified as an unprotected area.

“I can see the negative impact coming on that in a variety of different ways; one, the insurance rates going up for the people who have businesses there, but number 2, being a deterrent for new business to be put there,” said Redden.

“There's going to be a lot in Falmouth that becomes unprotected, and what goes unprotected, the costs go up,” he said, noting Hantsport's coverage grid might be able to extend further out to provide coverage to Mount Denson and a small segment of Falmouth.

Redden said there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to the Southwest Hants fire station, as it is currently affiliated with the WFD.

“The big losers in this are going to be Lower Vaughans, because they don’t have the numbers on their own, and some of the Windsor players... were actually credited to the Lower Vaughans fire department, giving them the numbers for first response. That's why their grade was where it was,” said Redden.

“The big losers in this are going to be the people who live in the area.” John Redden

“It's all going to have to be re-evaluated,” he said. “Vaughans is going to be interesting.”



July 2013 presentation

This isn’t the first time Redden has spoken out on this issue.

He was invited to speak at a special fire services presentation July 3, 2013 at the Royal Canadian Legion in Windsor. He presented alongside two other experts in the fire services field. Following the meeting, where residents were informed the WFD coverage provided the best bang for West Hants' buck, some councillors questioned the objectivity of the panel and the accuracy of the results.

Unlike the other experts who were hired to do the research, Redden said he did not receive “a cent” for his input.

“The reason we're involved is because of the implications on the public and the insurance companies if the county goes ahead with this,” said Redden.



Moving forward

While Redden hopes the county and WFD can find some common ground and prevent the service breakdown, he said whatever happens will take time to iron out.

I think this can be fixed if the parties involved are willing to fix it and I don't think there's going to be  a winner in it,” said Redden. “There's no winner in Windsor, no winner in the county and it's likely not going to go away for a number of years.”

However, if the two entities part ways, Redden said it will be the area residents and business owners that suffer the most.

“Fire service is not cheap. It's a service that we pay for. The only benefit we receive is in insurance premiums and where this is headed, they're not even going to receive that benefit — and that's what bothers me, from a personal aspect,” said Redden.

“The big losers in this are going to be the people who live in the area.”



Organizations: Windsor Fire Department, Royal Canadian Legion

Geographic location: Windsor, Hants, Falmouth Atlantic Canada Hantsport Lower Vaughans Brooklyn Hartville Road Chester Road Wentworth Road Mount Denson Hants County West Hants Nova Scotia Canada Three Mile Plans Garlands Crossing Newport Station

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Teed Off Homeowner
    June 25, 2014 - 16:35

    If West Hants council will not spend our money to pay the fire department, lets not give them any more of our money. Lets withhold paying our taxes this year.

  • Susie Meyer
    June 24, 2014 - 21:22

    Most local governments are formed by a charter or act granted by the province or territory. Local governments are not mentioned in the Canadian Constitution other than to say they are the responsibility of the provinces. Consequently, municipalities can be created, amalgamated, or disbanded at the whim of the provincial government which controls them. Perhaps it is time for the province to step in...

  • Joe Archibald
    June 24, 2014 - 20:32

    I know this is slightly off topic, but this is another reason Windsor council and West Hants council, and all the associated operations and services need to be amalgamated into one. New leadership is desperately needed. This area should be a booming bedroom community to the economic capital of the Maritimes. Instead we lanquish. We end up in ridiculous and now dangerous situations because of the short sighted, petty, personal politics of a few councilors, whose time to step aside has come. The time for the Warden and the group of 6 to resign, for amalgamation talks to start, and for a new way forward is now.

    • Jonathan DeMont
      June 25, 2014 - 14:50

      I couldn't have said it any better. We need to work as one united community to ensure our community grows.

  • another broker
    June 24, 2014 - 12:15

    Well I agree the situation is not good, let's be honest, The so called expert is not a representative of the major insurers, like Intact, Aviva, Economical whom many of you have insurance with. As a broker and someone in the know, I contacted insurers today and no increases are planned for July 1, 2014 as you indicated. I am sure both sides of the argument can find so called experts that would argue both points, just like they do in court cases. Stop scaring people to justify your cause, as the previous broker commented, it is business as usual. Get down to negotiating and let's move on!

    • Leah Rissesco
      June 24, 2014 - 15:40

      You are correct he is not a representative of any insurer or broker he is the Underwriter Expert who's job it is to set the rates for insurance companies to charge. Basing it on actual facts. Response time, apparatus, number of personnel and their training and how long they have been in business. Going with the Municipality you will be starting with nothing! I am a fire fighter and I am scared to death for my family and neighbours. If you have any sense at all you would be too. Unless, you are in an area where you will be enjoying fire protection coverage. My family and I won't be. If the Municipality allows WFD to leave my fire station goes with them, because we are a substation of Windsor. We are a substation of WFD because the WHM didn't care then and the sure as hell don't care now. They sure are enjoying all the taxes from those developments though aren't they?

    • another broker
      June 24, 2014 - 18:53

      Leah, with all due respect and no offence to John, all the major insurers that I listed above have their own underwriters and set their own rates, the smaller companies would hire out or contract that service. I too live in WH and would like an amicable solution, however you now have two brokers who have said it is business as usual. In all respect I believe we have done our homework as we also represent many clients in this region. As I stated before, either side can find and expert to question the validity of an opinion. Let's just get this solved. As a firefighter, (I assume for WFD) your opinion may be a little one sided as you would have the most to lose potentially.

  • proudWHff
    June 23, 2014 - 19:33

    The whole basis down grading of the fire service grade is based on the ASSUMPTION that there will be NO fire service after noon on June 30th. My understanding is that there will be service after June 30 it just likely won't be WFD. One only was to ask what someone gains for coming forward with this information. In the comments a local broker says business as usual. Fear mongering with questionable or unknown motive or your local broker, who are you to believe? Every resident gets to vote on who represents them at election time. It to bad that Windsor firefighters are not afforded the same privilege and get to vote who represents them. Change is inevitable its coming West Hants has a strong willing and able group of firefighters who all are ready to serve. I can not believe that when the dust settles that any firefighter regardless of department affiliation would hesitate to respond in what ever capacity they can muster. I seriously question the timing and motives for this letter given the length of time this dispute has dragged on.

    • proudWH resident
      June 23, 2014 - 21:20

      Your facts are wrong, according to the objective views of the man quoted. The downgrading is not based on the (laughed at the all caps for emphasis) assumption that there is no fire service. It is dependent upon the fact that when WDF withdraws service for nonpayment, residents in most of Falmouth, Three Mile Plains and questionably Vaughans will be relying on neighbouring departments for fire-service. "That increase will occur regardless if West Hants implements Plan B, which is to rely on the existing neighbouring fire departments to provide coverage to the unprotected areas, or if the municipality builds a fire station right away. The earliest the poor grade could be adjusted would be in about three years." I get it. You feel you were wronged by WFD in some way. Get over it. Lives are at stake.

    • Oh joy
      June 24, 2014 - 02:35

      It's also notable that you mention that the local broker says "business as usual." It's because the grade hasn't and won't be changed until July 1st and will likely take some time to get down to our local brokers. Inevitability it will raise your insurance though, quit trying to make it seem like it's not. From what I'm hearing around the community it sounds like you have eight capable firefighters who will be at your fire service. Eight, are you kidding me?

    • proudWHff
      June 24, 2014 - 08:11

      Existing departments being the key word. That would assume that there is never going to be another department other than WFD in those areas. Such hateful comments, it is easy to see the lack of substance to your comments when you resort to disparaging remarks about my using CAPs for emphasis when most every other post here does the same. Its ironic that this unbiased report is accompanied by a photo of the author smiling in front of the WFD. op. **Editor’s Note: John Redden was asked to stand in front of the Windsor Fire Department’s station for this photo as the subject he was speaking on concerned the WFD’s coverage area. It was not his suggestion to do so.

    • Leah Rissesco
      June 24, 2014 - 15:43

      Fear mongering? How about complete denial and intellectual inadequacy from WHM. Mr Redden presented the facts. While your rates will not be going up day one of no service, you are still legally bound to inform your insurance carrier of the change in fire protection, and your mortgage company as well. Failure to do so may result in non coverage if something catastrophic should occur. At the time if your renewal you will find out what your insurance rate is going to be for the next three years. Your not going to like it.....Mr Redden absolutely has no horse in this race....someone would likely shoot it if he did...

  • Homeowner
    June 23, 2014 - 15:31

    Why is the West Hants Municipality allowing homeowners to to pay the price that they refuse to? The council doesn't speak for me as a resident- they need to pay the bill for the service we need and stop hanging us out to dry. Put the blame where it needs to be- West Hants. I am with R&D, I'll gladly hand my tax dollar to Windsor to protect my home.

    • john
      June 24, 2014 - 08:46

      Had your tax dollars over to WINDSOR? are you serious??????. Have you looked at Windsor’s financials??? Then maybe you should move within Windsor's area. You didn't and all the new homes don't because they don't want to pay the outrageous taxes they are charging and are not using those dollars appropriately. They are staying very quiet in this whole thing and it is WINDSOR fire department but they are only having the chief speak, keeping their hands clean. Yes we need firefighters and they are very very valued. All they have to do is provide an overview of the expenses, ask yourself, why don't they provide this? why? then they get paid. This could all be resolved when this is provided. I am pleased West Hants is trying to watch the rising cost of services, every Municipality should be doing this. We can't just pay for something and not know the details of that. You are concerned with a raise in your home insurance and don't want to pay that, and rightly so. but West Hants doesn't want to go from 480,000 for fire service and in the next few years it is up to 677,000. They want to know WHY? They have every right to know. Everyone seems to forget this. Yes we need protection. But this can be resolved with payment and then work out an agreement on the cost on a go forward basis. I don't agree with the increase. I am not for one side or the other but I do respect that West Hants is trying to justify cost as they should. And WFD has supplied a great service and have wonderful firefighters.

    • Oh joy re:john
      June 24, 2014 - 13:29

      I don't think this is as simple as Windsor gives receipts, they get paid. Sure, I'm sure they'll get their operational funds from West Hants but there will be no future planning, no reassurance that they won't be stabbed in the back and as soon as they accept this "give receipts to get paid" crap they're going to be forced to do it every time. There is no trust in the relationship anymore, I'm sure if Windsor honestly believed that West Hants would completely stop with their own fire department thing they would move on and give receipts. PS - West Hants WILL be raising taxes. They have no choice, no funds left in the account doesn't look good.

    • John
      June 25, 2014 - 07:33

      Your statement said "WH refused to pay" My reply is they said they will pay and are ready to pay with a summary of expenditure. WHY WON'T THEY SUPPLY THIS? WHY? Then it is over and they have their money. As for the future, I don't understand why you believe West Hants HAS TO stay with WFD. If they decide it is the best option then fine, but they have every right to review other options and if it is reasonable in cost or compariable to the RAISING cost of WFD why shouldn't they. NOT SAYING THEY SHOULD!. Provide summary of expenditures so they can be reviewed and get paid, Lets all move on to the next item. There should be no divide with anyone in the areas, this all should have stated internal and not involved the residents. SAD, lets move on.

    • John
      June 25, 2014 - 07:42

      Your statement said "WH refused to pay" My reply is they said they will pay and are ready to pay with a summary of expenditure. WHY WON'T THEY SUPPLY THIS? WHY? Then it is over and they have their money.

  • R & D
    June 23, 2014 - 11:28

    we think that the 6 counclers need to go, they are not thinking of the public they are only thinking of themselves and they have been voting together for tooooooooo long, we need councliers. They need to take a vote from the public to see what they want and obviously its not what they want to server ties with WFD. I think we should all withhold our tax money and see how they can survive with no money to work with.

  • feduptotheteeth
    June 23, 2014 - 10:50

    The WHC has shown this is PERSONAL and have no intention of trying to reconcile with WFS.It should not be allowed . Mary Furey should do his duty and step in !These councillors know they will definitely be booted hard to the curb but care less.This has NEVER been about what is best for the residents of WH...never !Pretty much sums it up when a comment like "the only way this will be resolved is for scott Burgess to resign !" At least they could pretend to be doing their job ...they need to be kicked out...NOW! No Fire service, higher taxes, higher water rates !!ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Do the honorable thing and resign...all 6 of you!Let us get on with life and try to make things better again.You six need to hang your heads in truly are sad !

  • Local Broker
    June 23, 2014 - 10:25

    As of this moment we have not been informed of any price changes eff June 30/14 or been told to stop writing new business in our area (this happens sometimes before a major storm). The above may be a fact in the long term but as of right now there is nothing pending with our major as usual...

  • Rob Lindsay
    June 23, 2014 - 09:39

    Amazing how the incompetence of few, can affect so many. There are many people in our community who are barely getting by, both residents and businesses. Some of the most difficult issues have resulted in some of the best negotiations in the world. Both in business and government areas. I have had the luxury of analyzing some of these negotiations in case studies with the Harvard Law School and some of the most highly skilled negotiators and mediation specialists in the world; all these highly skilled and experienced negotiators reiterate the basics... Outline an agreed upon negotiation format so all parties understand the guidelines for the process going forward; know your, and try to understand the other sides BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement); look for fair and reasonable ways to "expand the pie", make the most of the opportunity, where both parties walk away feeling they were treated fairly during the negotiation. There are many instances where all parties can walk away feeling proud about what they were able to achieve, feel they were fairly treated, and are willing to do "business" again with each other. This process takes discipline, the ability to speak openly, think creatively, and build a foundation of trust to establish a movement to proceed forward now, and in the future. Sometimes, things don't always work out, and situations don't progress as one would hope, but in many of these cases when people are not emotionally involved it can be recognized and the best negotiators step back, and allow other trained individuals to help try to reach agreement or resolve. If a proper format is outlined in the beginning, identifying options for resolve during the process of situation indifference then these small hurdles are easily overcome along the way. Unfortunately I don't see where this has happened between the parties. No matter what side of the fence your on in a particular stance, especially when it's government/political/public indifference, either side is rarely 100% right. I think I can speak for many of our citizens in this community when I say, please put any personal agendas or indifference aside, sit back at the table and work out an agreement for the betterment of all involved. So much more I could write.... (Typed from my iPhone, sorry for any typos and grammar/punctuation mistakes... I'm human.)

    • john
      June 23, 2014 - 10:37

      HERE HERE!

    • RA
      June 23, 2014 - 17:49

      When I was in grade two, another kid on the playground had a large marble, I wanted that marble for my own collection. I made the kid an offer he couldn’t refuse, five small marbles for the big one. After awhile, the kid came back to me and wanted his marble back. I said he could have it for ten small marbles. He then ran away and came back with an expert that studied at the NSTC (Nova Scotia Teachers College). This expert told me that I was being too greedy, and if I didn’t give the big marble back for five small marbles I would have to stay after school. The moral of the story is, don’t be too greedy, or you may get into trouble from the experts.

  • Nicole McCarthy
    June 23, 2014 - 08:10

    Reading this post brought heavy tears to my eyes. Why can't each party give them what they want? If it's receipts West Hants is after, DO SOMETHING!!!! If it's money WFD wants GIVE IT TO THEM, it's our taxpayer money anyhow. And now 6people are going to decide a scary ate for us all. In this hard economic time small business and families are struggling EVERYDAY to provide for their families with the basics and now we are finding out it is going to cost us MUCH MORE for te basics! How will the already struggling pay for this lack of fire service??? And what happens if the worst happens and there's a fire??? It will be the community who will stand by each other because West Hants is wonderful, but think of all the hurt this is, has been and will cause in the future. More families will hve to move west to help pay for these costs or atleast they will have fire service.... The council** should all be ashamed of their actions. I pray no one has to lose in this situation, but a week isn't far away…. **Sentence modified to comply with website commenting policy

  • Timothy Pitts
    June 23, 2014 - 08:07

    I sure do not understand how facts can be assumed as scare tactics? He has stated through experience in the field what will happen with no fire protection. Hope council plans to reimburse the tax payers so we can pay our insurance premiums!

  • John
    June 23, 2014 - 07:55

    Most scare tactics to cause more divide. Cool heads will provail. Let the parties deal with the issues before making people over react again. Let see if that can happen for a change.

    • HA
      June 23, 2014 - 08:14

      How is this a scare tactic? As stated in the article he has no received a cent from WFD for his info and research. It's his job. Don't fault WFD for bringing this to light while West Hants council sweeps it under the rug knowing their residents will see a drastic increase in insurance. But at least their taxes won't go up.. Wait, they are anyway.. So higher insurance premiums, higher taxes, and no fire service.. WHAT A DEAL! And before you jump all over the fact that a Plan B is in place and I'll receive just as good of service from BFD I'll deal with it right now. Yes, BFD has a stellar group of firefighters who are more than capable of handling pretty well anything thrown their way. But no matter how good of a firefighting force you have, if your response time is in the 20 - 25 minute range then your skills are pretty well useless. It would be like WFD taking over Brooklyns area. Sure, they have an excellent firefighting force but the response time would be too much. That's why Station 2 was built. To cut down on response times and to DECREASE insurance costs. The money they saved on insurance premiums more than made up for the area rate they implemented.

    • Randy Hussey
      June 23, 2014 - 08:22

      This is not scare tactics, these are facts. This council has proven that they are incapable of handling this situation. The council Group of 6 has botched this from the beginning. If the WFD took them to court they would have to pay the bill based on the last contract, so pay it and move on. I have no faith in this council and it's time the province stepped in and booted them out. They are putting our safety and financial security at risk!!!

    • john
      June 23, 2014 - 10:41

      See HAAAA, your doing it again. I didn't say anything about WFD in my comments at all. YOU DID AGAINNNNNN. "Let the parties deal with the issues before making people over react again." Let"s see if that can happen for a change. " And of course you can't again.

    • citizen
      June 26, 2014 - 01:13

      John- If expenditures are such a big deal to WHC, why didn't they check the accessed value of the land they bought? Why pay more than 2x its accessed value and have no plan for its use at the time of purchase? This pissing match is down to its last act now. The latest news is that one of the people involved in negotiations has now been criminally charged with assault, is currently in hospital, and has taken a leave from her capacity. So where does this leave us? In a few days, response time will be increased dramatically for people in certain areas. People that work in emergency response will tell you that response time is CRITICAL. Its time for the province to step in. HWC has shown the rest of the province how incompetent they are, and have been for many years now. This whole fire services fiasco has brought it to attention, but this is just business as usual for WHC. They are not used to being accountable, or having to actually justify their actions.