The Lloydminster Fire Department is looking at implementing a new model that would increase the number of paid staff and give volunteers a stipend.
At the Governance and Priorities Committee Meeting, Fire Chief Jordan Newton presented the model to council which is based off of the Fire Department in Langford, British Columbia.
“The general framework is using a hybrid model between career staff and volunteers, providing 24 hour coverage out of one of our fire halls. Another important piece to this for the public is this will also eliminate five minutes off of our response time,” says Newton.
The current response time around the city is about eight minutes according to the Chief.
“We need to be able to maintain an acceptable amounts of volunteers to protect the city, so as the city grows we need to expand our volunteer limits. In years prior it’s been difficult to get volunteers to give as much time needed as the fire department requires,” says Newton.
The stipend would be paid out on a premium basis and be a flat rate per shift. Currently there are four full time members and 29 volunteers at the department. They are looking to recruit 11 more volunteers. Newton says if the model is implemented he does believe it will attract more people.
“Our historical turnover rate is about 30% depending on the year, so with this new model that was proposed and discussed in council, it will provide volunteers and allow them to volunteer when it’s acceptable for them and get training when it’s convenient for them.”
The cost for the fire department currently is $570, 000 according to Newton, the stipend model would cost an additional $367, 000. To implement a full time fire department would cost an extra $5 million.
“City council is going to have to look at the budget implications of this, but from the financial perspective it’s got some strong merit compared to going to a full time fire department,” say Mayor Gerald Aalbers.
The Mayor adds he believes it is necessary to update the model of the fire department.
Newton says he did discuss the model with members of the fire department before the presentation.
“The response was tremendous from the fire department and the volunteers on currently, a lot of them are looking to start this as soon as possible.”
The next step will be for the department to build a business case. Aalbers says this will really come down to the budget.