news.nationalpost.com/2013/02/09 … ed-cities/
Interesting article. Here are some quotes:
Road workers get pink slips and librarians get salary cuts, but firefighters have often ridden through tough economic times with steady pay and untouched staffing levels. But in an age of fireproofing and smoke detectors, increasingly idle fire stations are proving a tempting target for belt-tightening cities across Canada. As firefighters hit back with warnings of untended blazes and trapped families, however, the struggle to reform Canadian firefighting is not looking pretty.
In other words, while fire departments may typically be expensive and overstaffed, making them reasonable cutback targets for cities with strained budgets, the public retains a reflexive fear of their homes going up in flames. Add to that our admiration for the heroes in helmets, and firehalls have become one of the most sensitive areas for budget-conscious politicians.
Budget grandstanding by Toronto firefighters has particularly irked the city’s paramedics, who are often beaten to medical emergencies by the better-staffed and better-funded fire department, only to see Toronto’s bravest do little more than direct traffic.
“What we’ve found is that fire has only been able to provide any relevant medical intervention 2% of the time,” Toronto EMS union president Geoff MacBride told the Post in January.
“They essentially have the same skills as a lifeguard and we’re basically sending four very well-paid lifeguards in a very expensive truck to a scene that requires highly trained paramedics to provide definitive care,” he added.
Like its counterparts across the country, Vancouver firefighters spend the lion’s share of their time on medical calls, but instead of zooming through the downtown on full-size pumper trucks, they make medical calls in specially-equipped pickup trucks.
According to Chief McKearney, it is the wave of the future.
“I talk to my counterparts across the country and they’re moving this way; to have firefighters move into smaller response units while still having the capability to respond to a fire and perform other duties,” he said.