City council was able to get their first look at the future of the city’s fire department and where it will become in the next ten years.

The Fire Services Master Plan was presented at the Governance and Priorities meeting on November 18 and showed the ten-year plan for the fire service which looks to refocus from being purely responsive to adding more fire prevention initiatives like education. 

“If we can prevent a fire then the fire service won’t be as busy fighting fires. So we’re trying to be proactive instead of reactive,” says Mayor Gerald Aalbers.

The plan has 34 recommendations which could be implemented over the next ten years. One of the immediate recommendations is to create new fire bylaws and policies for public education, fire prevention and inspection programs. Councillor Buckingham says the plan is an important piece as it will provide future guidelines for all members of the fire department.

“Now we can focus more on the prevention and community education piece. From the Fire Master Plan, you can identify there are certain age demographics, the ten to fifteen-year-olds and the senior population could benefit from that.”

Another is to add a fourth paid-on-call firefighter per shift which would add four more firefighters to the department at a cost of $520,000. The position was factored into the 2020 budget. Councillor Buckingham says having a fourth person is necessary as NFPA standards does not allow a three-person crew to enter a building.

“Do our residents expect our firefighters to be able to go into a building and rescue a family member or someone trapped in the fire? I would venture to guess most people would think a fire department just does that but you need to have four people on there to be able to do that. The addition of the fourth paid-on-call firefighter makes all the difference in the world.”

The plan also identified and prioritized risks within the community and found 22 per cent of fires were caused by mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions, 44 per cent were classified as miscellaneous acts and 25 per cent were classified as arson or “set fires.” 

The full report is available on the city’s website and will help inform the city’s risk reduction programs. Council will make a decision on the two recommendations at a future council meeting.