KAWARTHA LAKES-The Oakwood Fire Hall is officially closed.
Last night trucks pulled out of Oakwood Station 11 for the last time, with little fanfare. The outdoor emergency siren eerily sounded one last time according to residents who attended.
The fire department has now transitioned into a new fire hall just north of Little Britain now called Mariposa Fire Station 21.
Closing the hall was a controversial move with many residents speaking out against it. Many residents had concerns that this would increase response times for fire calls in the area.
“This has now left the Oakwood and Manilla communities a longer response time in serving our citizens, which, unfortunately, was voted on to close the hall by our elected officials.” states Nancy Hanna, whose son is a firefighter at the Oakwood hall. “To our Oakwood firefighters past and present………thank you for serving our community well. Your dedication, courage, strength and support has been invaluable to our citizens through your fast responses to any fire and medical calls.”
A public meeting was held in January 2018. Approximately 100 people attended. One of them was Patty Grieves, a resident of Oakwood for 37 years. She challenged Chief Mark Pankhursts response time of 11 minutes. She says it will take five minutes alone for the firefighters to get from Oakwood to Little Britain, then five minutes to get their gear ready and another five minutes at least to the fire. That’s 15 minutes vs the 11 minutes Pankhurst said the time would be. Pankhurst explained that not all the firefighters would have to travel from Oakwood to Little Britain, some are already living in Little Britain.
Fire Chief Mark Pankhurst, now retired, spearheaded the closure and said it would not increase response times and all of the studies they had done found this was the best move. “The Fire Station consolidation will ensure the continuation of efficient, effective and sustainable Fire Services.”
Hanna wanted to say thank you to the crew for their years of community dedication.
“Through your Canada Day celebrations, fireworks displays, student class tours, visiting the school, donating to the food bank, the school breakfast program, the church, youth hockey and baseball teams, The Dragon Flies, etc., and running the Christmas food and toy drive each year. Continue to stay safe as you work from your new hall…….I know you will continue to serve our community to the best of your ability. Thanks guys!” she said.
This story has been updated to include that Nancy Hanna’s son is a firefighter at the Oakwood Hall.