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Fire Safety in Saugeen Shores

Analyzing Building Ages (possible Asbestos), & Volunteer Firefighter Response Times

In June 2019, SDSS student Maddy Craig began a final project to explore fire safety in Saugeen Shores. This project was completed for the Grade 12 Geomatics course (CGO4M). The information, data, and maps below were all compiled by Maddy. Data was graciously supplied by the Town of Saugeen Shores (thanks Katelyn & Laura!), and Bruce County (thanks Justin!). In October (during University reading week), Maddy had an opportunity to present her analysis to representatives from the Saugeen Shores Fire Department as well as the Town of Saugeen Shores. 


     Understanding fire hazards and fire safety is crucial to keeping people safe from fires. This study provides education and awareness within Saugeen Shores regarding fire prevention, safety, and hazards. Individuals from Saugeen Shores provided insight and information to the production and analyses of maps & statistics. The Fire Chief, GIS employees, and others assisted in providing relevant and useful data to help keep Saugeen Shores residents and tourists safe from fires.

    Through maps of building ages, building types, fire hydrants, volunteer firefighter driving times, and potential asbestos maps. Saugeen Shores residents and firefighters can use the data to increase fire safety in their home and community. Risks of fires for certain homes/buildings can be assessed and analyzed. The data included has many different analyses that can be made – depending on who or what it concerns. As fire safety is such a large and important topic, it is important that every topic was covered and analyzed.



Laura Kranenburg & Katelyn Large – Laura (Supervisor - Asset Management & GIS) & Katelyn (GIS Coordinator - Town of Saugeen Shores) provided many shapefiles regarding building footprints (including building types), roads, land parcels, and any other basemap data. Data from Laura & Katelyn was used in every map in this study.


Justin Kraemer – Justin has also provided building footprints that included the year each building was constructed. This building was used to create several maps in this study (Justin is the GIS Coordinator at Bruce County)


Phil Eagleson – Phil is the Saugeen Shores Fire Chief, he assisted with providing spatial data as well as information regarding fire hydrants, procedures & addresses for volunteer firefighters, services of the Saugeen Shores Fire Department, and general information on fires within town.


Bruce Robinson – Bruce is the manager of the data, applications, and technical support at the office of the Ontario Fire Marshal and Emergency Management. He has provided statistics regarding past fires in Saugeen Shores. Although Saugeen Shores is a smaller community, this data was still very useful to put Saugeen Shores’ statistics in perspective in comparison to larger cities (like Toronto).



FINAL FULL Fire Hydrants - both.jpg
  1. Provide awareness and education regarding fire safety within homes and businesses in Saugeen Shores using a variety of maps.

  2. Provide information regarding building ages to promote appropriate fire precautions for each building. Older buildings may need more care in preventing fires. As well, building age maps will provide firefighters information as to whether a home may contain asbestos and if they could potentially be contaminated.

  3. Provide knowledge and insight for residents of Saugeen Shores to make appropriate changes to their homes and lifestyle to stay safe from fires.

  4. Create awareness for the volunteer firefighters through mapping their drive times to the fire department before they can arrive to the call. This also includes information on their green flashing lights, and arriving on to the call as fast as possible. This is especially important as the fire fighters are 100% volunteer and are heavily relied upon.



  1. Decided on the topic of fire safety – identified (within proposal) why it is important and how the research would benefit others.

  2. Created a list of components (also within proposal) regarding fire safety in Saugeen Shores that would be important to include in the research. Also identified which patterns/trends that would most likely appear within maps from this information.

  3. Information that needed to be obtained was identified. Individuals who were capable of getting this information were also identified.

  4. Questions for “key players” are composed for each individual map/dataset. Questions can range from general information on each topic to specific procedures and information.

  5. Began contacting individuals that would have appropriate data sets and information.

  • Laura Kranenburg – Saugeen Shores basemap data & building footprints.

  • Justing Kraemer – Building footprints that included the year that each building was constructed.

  • Bruce Robinson – Saugeen Shores fire statistics.

  • Phil Eagleson – Information regarding Saugeen Shores fires, procedures, volunteers, hydrants, and any remaining relevant data.

  1. Considered the data that is available to determine which maps can be made, and which maps will benefit the study most.

  2. Input shapefiles, CSV files, and other map data into several individual maps and begin extracting data. Depending on the map, map layers could be sorted by year or by proximity.

  3. Map layers are then sorted by colour as a visual aid to the analyses and displays of the maps.

  4. Analyses of maps were started and patterns/trends were considered. Previous notes from conversations from “key players” were referenced, as they also included information that aided in created the analyses.

FINAL FINAL Asbestos Map - Port
FINAL FINAL FINAL Asbestos Map - South.j
Building Ages - mini maps.jpg

Building Ages in Saugeen Shores

    Identifying older buildings in Saugeen Shores is crucial for fire safety. As Saugeen Shores begins to age, it is very important that individuals are aware of the fire risks for their homes and other buildings. Older buildings may be at a higher risk of fires due to old wiring, different standards/regulations at the time of build, or poor maintenance of the building. These maps display clear patterns of neighbourhoods or buildings and when they were built.

    30.31% of all buildings in Saugeen Shores were built between 1960 and 1989 – the same time that Bruce Power began construction. This would have supplied jobs to many (most of whom did not live in Saugeen Shores originally), explaining why there are so many buildings from that time period. Currently, many more homes are being built in the North end of Port Elgin, as well as the South end of Southampton. As of 2017, there were 11964 buildings in Saugeen Shores.

There is a very clear downtown core in Southampton (left), where many buildings are aged anywhere from 1840 to 1899.


Building Types in Saugeen Shores

    Saugeen Shores is not a large community, but with a population of about   15 000, there are still many different types of homes and buildings in town. These maps display many residential buildings in Saugeen Shores, as well as sheds, workshops, etc. These maps clearly show that majority of Saugeen Shores is made up of residential buildings, possibly increasing fire risks. This may include families with young children (who do not know about fire safety), or simply just many individuals within one building – fire safety could often get overlooked with so much going on at once.


    54.25% (6490) of Saugeen Shores is made up of residential buildings of that, 51.64% (6178) of buildings are single family homes. As well, Saugeen Shores is largely a tourist community many seasonal residents arrive in late May and early June, and can bring the population of Saugeen Shores up to approximately 40 000.

    Tourists often rent cabins or stay in trailer parks for the summer. This makes fire rescue especially difficult when firefighters are unable to locate a call due to difficulties locating a specific trailer or cabin. Many cabins are located along Green Street, Mill Street, Elgin Street, and Market Street in Port Elgin, as well as along High Street and Huron Street in Southampton.

FINAL FULL Building Types - Port Elgin.j

Blue – dispenses 1 500 or more GPM (gallons per minute)

Green – 1000-1499 GPM

Orange – 500-999 GPM

Red – 500 or less GPM

Port Elgin’s placement of fire hydrants is very linear. There is approximately one on every street corner.

Southampton’s fire hydrant placement is more sporadic as Southampton is not very linear in comparison to Port Elgin.


Volunteer Firefighter Driving Times

    The Saugeen Shores Fire Department is composed of 48 volunteer firefighters, 1 fire chief (Phil Eagleson), 1 fire prevention officer (Rob Atkinson), and 1 administrative worker. There are 24 volunteers for each fire station (one in Port Elgin, one in Southampton), with 8 trucks between them. The Saugeen Shores Fire Department responds to 100-200 calls per year. 80% are medical, 15% are motor vehicle collisions, and 5% are fires. As well, the Saugeen Shores Fire Department also does water rescue for up to 1km from the shore. There are 2 boats that they use.

    Majority of the firefighters are able to make it to their station in less than 5 minutes, 9 are between 5 and 10 minutes, and 5 are longer than 10 minutes.

    All of the firefighters in Saugeen Shores are volunteers, meaning when a call comes in, the firefighters must first report to the fire station before heading to a call. They are not always at the fire department. When responding to a call, 80% of the time volunteers are at their house. This map displays the approximate driving times for each firefighter to get to their station from their homes. Calls are more frequent in the summer, as the population of Saugeen Shores rises from approximately 15 000 to 40 000. As mentioned with building types, there are many tourists that stay in cabins, cottages, or trailer parks, that are often harder to locate due to difficulty locating the specific address of the trailer, cottage, or cabin.


Building Ages in Relation to 1977 Asbestos Ban

In 1977, products with asbestos was banned in Canada by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Contamination from asbestos can lead to scarring in the lungs, making it hard to breathe and leave a chronic cough. These symptoms are not immediate though, it can take 10-20 years for symptoms to show. Products with asbestos were used because they were fire resistant and often used for the insulation in houses.

This map and information is especially important for firefighters, because when responding to a call, they need to be extremely careful to not get contaminated from asbestos. It is often found in walls and ceilings of buildings, so if they ever need to cut through, they could potentially be contaminated. This map will help firefighters identify which houses (those built before 1977) will likely have asbestos, houses that may have asbestos due to building not being fully completed until a date after 1977, and houses that should not have asbestos.

FINAL FULL VFF Map - both.jpg
FINAL FULL Building Types - Southampton.

Fire Hydrants in Saugeen Shores

Saugeen Shores has over 800 fire hydrants – all of which were recently repainted. Although their colours could not be mapped yet, the tops of hydrants were repainted in accordance to how much water they were capable of dispensing. This was done to identify which hydrants would be best for firefighters to use depending on the severity of the fire (if more than one was close enough to use).

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