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Report reviews HRM response to wildfire

By Kelli Rickard Oct 16, 2023 | 11:48 AM

A new staff report indicates a communication breakdown had a “detrimental impact” on the initial response to the Halifax-area wildfire.

The May fire destroyed 151 homes and forced the evacuation of more than 16-thousand residents.

According to “Upper Tantallon Wildfire Lessons Learned” to be presented to council Tuesday, demand for information “overwhelmed operations” and “the lack of quality assurance and verification caused greater confusion and frustration.”

The report also says, “dry hydrants and the lack of fire mitigation measures may have exacerbated the crisis.”

It also states HRM’s emergency plan has not kept up with the growth of the city.

Approved by council in 2017 and to be reassessed every three years, the plan was last reviewed in 2018.

Among nearly 50 recommendations are that the city look at making it mandatory for communities to have access to water supply; that no new housing is developed unless there are “sufficient access and egress options”, plus more emergency staffing.

Meanwhile, the Nova Scotia government and Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency are also working on reports.