Baddeck fire chief, village commission in heated dispute over hydrants

The Baddeck Volunteer Fire Department has asked the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to intervene over the village commission's fire hydrant inspection and maintenance program.

Issue dates back to fire chief's complaint to village in 2016 over hydrants following Bell Bay fire

A week after the Inverary Resort in Baddeck, N.S., burned to the ground, the chief of the local volunteer fire department wrote to the Utility and Review Board that this fire hydrant didn't work. (CBC)

A long-running dispute over fire hydrant operations between the fire chief and the village commission in Baddeck, N.S., is being handled by the province's Utility and Review Board.

The two sides don't seem to be talking to each other, except through letters to the UARB.

A week after the Inverary Resort burned to the ground in June, Baddeck's volunteer fire Chief Darren Macaulay wrote to the UARB expressing what he called "serious" concerns about the hydrant immediately in front of the resort, which he said didn't work.

Macaulay also told the UARB the Baddeck Volunteer Fire Department had repeatedly raised questions about the village's hydrant inspection and maintenance program since 2016.

That's the same year the Bell Bay Golf Course clubhouse burned down.

Later that year, the department met with the village and wrote a letter about hydrants that were "out of commission," Macaulay said, and the village's promised inspection and flushing program was not carried out in 2017, he said.

'Putting the public at risk'

"Despite our repeated requests, inadequate inspection and maintenance of fire hydrants remain a grave problem," Macaulay said.

"The Village of Baddeck has failed to ensure proper water flow of hydrants, putting the public at risk."

Macaulay declined comment to CBC News.

Village says hydrant is working

The village commission issued a news release earlier this week stating the hydrant in front of the Inverary Resort has been tested and works.

The commission also supplied the UARB with a copy of an email to the fire chief saying a pipe extension was needed to open the hydrant.

"It is obvious that a collaborative effort between your department and the village is required to ensure that the BVFD has the tools to meet the requirements of the village's hydrants," Brian Morrison, chair of the village commission, wrote.

Inverary Resort in Baddeck, N.S., caught fire early in the morning on June 7 and burned to the ground. (Submitted by Tina Emi)

"This will benefit the residents and businesses of the village."

Morrison said in a statement emailed to CBC News that the village would have no further comment until the UARB process ends.

Macaulay told the UARB the fire department believes hydrant inspection and maintenance are the village's responsibility.

And the fire chief told the Victoria Standard newspaper last week it's not up to volunteer firefighters to get involved in checking hydrants.

The clubhouse at the Bell Bay Golf Club burned down in 2016. (Byron Phillips)

According to documents filed with the UARB, some of the hydrants in Baddeck are privately owned, while the rest belong to the village.

Macaulay told the UARB the fire department hopes the review board will offer "guidance and assistance to the Village of Baddeck in meeting its responsibilities and obligations with respect to: (1) maintaining fire hydrants that provide sufficient water pressure; and (2) informing BVFD in a timely manner as to the status of all hydrants in order to allow BVFD to carry out its responsibilities to the community as a fire department."

The Utility and Review Board has given the village commission until July 27 to file answers to nearly a dozen questions, including several on the hydrant in front of the Inverary Resort, as well as the rest of the hydrants in Baddeck.

Read more articles from CBC Nova Scotia

About the Author

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 32 years. He has spent the last 14 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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