Presentation to City Council
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO ~~~~~ December 22, 2020 (LSN) Fire fighters are appearing before council today to urge the city to move forward on fire department response capabilities. They are also cautioning that station closures and other measures will reduce the level of safety that residents have come to expect.
The fire fighters are taking their message public because the city is currently considering closing or relocating city fire halls. Based on a consultant report, and against the advice of the fire fighters association, the city is also considering taking away the fire fighter who is dedicated to accounting for the safety of fire fighters who enter a burning structure.
The city proposes giving this important task to another fire fighter who would then be forced to abandon the other essential fireground tasks that need to be performed quickly and simultaneously when crews first arrive at a fire.
“With one less crew member available to conduct initial operations, everything will take longer and both fire fighter and public safety will diminish as a result, it’s as simple as that,” says Dennis Brescacin, President of the Thunder Bay Professional Fire Fighters Association. “We reject the notion that eliminating the crew member dedicated to accountability won’t impact safety.”
The city already fails to meet the National Fire Protection Association 1710 Standard for urban fire department deployment, and the number of emergency incidents is increasing year after year. For example, the number of incidents the fire department responded to increased 18.9 per cent from 2016 to 2018. Now is not the time for additional cuts.
A custom GIS analysis performed by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) illustrates the existing gaps between the Thunder Bay fire department’s existing response capabilities and the NFPA 1710 Standard. The report recommends increasing the number of vehicles and fire fighters available across the city to respond to emergencies, and putting fire fighters on two ladder trucks that are currently not staffed.
“We urge the city to hit the pause button and move forward on a plan to provide the levels of public safety the people of this city expect and deserve,” Brescacin says, noting that his association is ready and willing to work with city leaders to help achieve that goal.
“If there’s one thing citizens expect their city to do, it’s to keep their families safe. And Thunder Bay can do that by gradually improving fire department capabilities, not rolling them back.”