SCUGOG: Scugog's fire department has invoiced their first ice rescue in a new program to recoup some of the expenses involved in such activities.
Fire Chief Richard Miller said that the rescue in question involved an angler from Oshawa who ventured onto the Lake Scugog ice on Jan. 13 off the eastern shore of Scugog Island, as temperatures climbed to unseasonable highs that weekend. The invoicing comes following a council direction last year, in which local firefighters responding to ice rescue calls have now been tasked with asking for a name and address for billing purposes.
Chief Miller said that three trucks responded to the Jan. 13 call, with one on standby, resources that will be reflected in the invoicing formula of $500 per truck plus manpower. Similar to the department's illegal burn fines, recipients have the option of disputing the charges before council, said the chief.
The invoicing proposal came following a handful of rescue and recovery incidents over the course of a single weekend in January 2012, when numerous snowmobiles plunged through the ice of Lake Scugog. The total cost of recovering those vehicles was estimated by the chief at $10,660. Chief Miller told councillors that four trucks - at $500 apiece - and 29 firefighters responded to the first call, while three trucks responded to the second incident.
While he said that reaction to invoicing for ice rescues in the township has been mixed, the chief added that lake users need to exercise a degree of personal responsibility when venturing onto ice, especially in light of the high temperatures experienced before and during the Jan. 13 rescue.
"The ice conditions that weekend weren't conducive (to recreation)," said Chief Miller, "so people have to make up their own minds whether they believe they are safe. We (the department) say that no ice is safe ice.
"Some say its fair, others say its unfair," added the chief, "but this is what council has directed me to do. And if people are going to be on the lake and we have to rescue them, we're going to be asking for names and addresses so that we can send them a bill."