Charlottetown wants second opinion on firefighting needs

Dave Stewart
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Charlottetown fire department

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says the city is going to take another look at its firefighting needs.

The city is going to ask an insurance underwriter to review a report that was done in 2007 on its fire services.

That report recommended more firefighters and a new centrally located fire station.

The city has been looking at the north end of the city for a new location that would eventually replace Station 2 in the neighbourhood of Sherwood.

Lee is concerned that if the city carries out the recommendations in the report that pertains to staffing alone, it will cost city taxpayers.

The report talks about the need for two deputy chiefs instead of the one it has now.

“Basically on staffing alone it means $2 million in additional costs per year if we were to follow through on every recommendation,’’ Lee said.

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The report was written by the consulting firm CGI.

The firm pointed out that Charlottetown relies too much on volunteers and needs to hire more full-time firefighters.

Lee wants a separate firm to have a look at things.

“We have to see if both sets of eyes are seeing the same thing.’’

Charlottetown currently has eight full-time firefighters and 77 volunteers.

There are also seven entry-level part-time firefighters and one seasonal firefighters for a total of 93.

Those eight full-timers all work out of Station 1 on Kent Street.

The report recommends maintaining the eight full-time firefighters but it wants four at Station 1 and four at Station 2.

Lee suggests it may make more sense to have full-time firefighters at one station, rather than both stations.

For example, when a fire call comes from the Station 2 coverage area, full-time firefighters from Station 1 could respond until volunteers with Station 2 get there.

The mayor is not trying to suggest the city can operate with one fire station. Just the opposite. The city is committed to two separate stations but Lee wants the insurance underwriter to look at the recommendations in the 2007 report and determine whether it agrees with those recommendations and that there is a need to staff both with full-time firefighters.

“This city isn’t Toronto or Vancouver and I really question why we can’t go with one station staffed (full time). The easiest thing to do is put permanent employees in every station . . . but it is also the costly thing to do.’’

The city was looking at a new location on Capital Drive, agreeing to spend $1.45 million to buy the land, if the site was determined to be suitable.

However, that plan was called off when engineers determined it was not.

Coun. Terry Bernard suggests the city look into whether linking on to the Island EMS building on Sherwood Road is possible.

Lee says it’s time to have another look at the report and update it.

“Before we continue to spend more money on following all of the recommendations let’s have someone else look at the report and see if all of this is necessary.’’

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: CGI

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Sherwood Road, Kent Street Toronto Vancouver

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Recent comments

  • Charlottetown Citizen
    January 16, 2015 - 09:50

    Seems like everyone else is laying off firefighters when Charlottetown is hiring? Why not have 4 full time guys on shift during the day time to respond all over the city when volunteers are less available and to do Prevention and maintenance. Then have the volunteers do the rest. We are very lucky to have the volunteers we do. Charlottetown cannot afford to staff two stations and there is no indication it would make us any safer.

    • Ryan
      January 16, 2015 - 11:53

      What cities in Canada are laying off firefighters?

  • vff
    January 16, 2015 - 07:47

    Article should be corrected: When a fire call goes off in the Station 2 coverage area, Station 1 full time members DO NOT respond.