Volunteer Firefighters

I hear the city is planning to recruit volunteer firefighters again.

Thanks to ThePodunkian (where I get all my Daily News stories :wink:, you can read all about it here:


[quote]The problem is that there has seemingly never been a proper public debate over not only the auxiliary plans but the current staffing situation as well. Far too many people in the city are unaware of the staffing policy or what the impact and long range plan might be for the auxiliary force. A more open dialogue with its residents might help the city to better get its message across.

The first thing they should do is address the flare up of the issue of the staffing situation. The citizens of Prince Rupert deserve to know exactly where they stand in the event of a fire in the community. If indeed lives could be at risk, then clearly the present levels are not correct and need to be amended. Leaving the fire fighters in danger is also clearly not acceptable, nor is a system that could result in disaster for a community that has seen a fair amount of threat from fires, as our history has shown over the years.[/quote]

So is the Fire Department understaffed?

Watching their reactions recently, and with my own personal experience with them in the past, they’ve been really quick at responding to calls, and have generally been kick-ass and professional. 

But what’s the issue?  Are they not filling open positions or something like that?

Personally, I think it would be sad to have to wait for volunteers to get to the station and get ready to respond to a call, when in the same time the professionals could have already put the fire out.

But what do I know?  I’m sure somebody will fill us in.

I definately support the firefighters and the police as far as staffing levels go. Cutting them back, or relying on volunteer’s, hurts the community.

The only beef I’ve ever had with the fire department was when I used to see them out there washing thier own vehicles while they were obviously on shift. They don’t seem to do that anymore thank god. It just looked bad…lol


As far as I know, the Fire Department is understaffed because the city can’t afford to pay them what they are worth.  The reasons for making an auxillary force were strictly to save money I believe, but no one seems to think of the amount of time it takes to save a person’s life, when they’re trying to save the city a buck.

If I’m interpreting the Daily News article correctly, the fact that the city uses 3 fire fighters on a shift is in contravention of a WCB regulation. Now I’m not sure if this happens all the time or just on random times or if it’s scheduled in or what.

Doesn’t really matter though as in a way they are kind of playing roulette I guess. As the union guy said, the potential for criminal charges and financial costs is there should some unfortunate incident occur resulting in death.

So if they’re doing costing at City Hall is it worth to have a potential lawsuit for x amount of dollars costed against a full shift of four, which seems to be the WCB’s bottom line on this issue. Of course the story is based on the words of a union rep, so its slanted in favour of the fire fighters. But, how many people really knew that we only have three fire fighters on shift at any give time and how many knew that they have to wait for a fourth before they can enter a building? Not many I would think.

The problem seems to be the city rarely communicates these things to us, they don’t say “here’s what we plan to do, here’s what will happen”.

The auxiliary fire dept is a good example I guess, since no one really knows what the plan is for that, what it would cost and how it would affect the professional dept over the course of the years. Do they stop replacing fire fighters as they retire off, choosing instead to utilize the auxiliaries more? It’s stuff like that which makes people suspicious…

If given the choice I wonder if people in town would prefer an understaffed fire dept to lets say owning citywest or a cable tv operation. Or in owning the collection of land that the city has purchsed over the years for whatever use they have planned. Or any other questionable project that they have launched at city hall over the years, I’m sure others can come up with their own list.

I would think that if you were to ask your average tax payer what the priorities might be they would list, police matters and fire protection/prevention as the 1 and the 2 with many of the other city services further down the line.

The city regularly sends all six councillors and the mayor off to the UBCM meetings normally down south or in the Okanagan, which would be ok if the city were flush with money I guess, but even then might be a bit too large a delegation. How much on travel expenses could they have plowed back into protective services in the last ten years or so.

They plan on hiring a number of consultants to examine different departments but at what cost? Do they really need more studies over and over again?

Seems that they are having a problem in prioritizing the things that taxpayers might be interested in.

Now it’s a hard job I’m sure to try and cobble together budgets for a city strapped for cash, but they have assets that they can sell if they have to. I’m not sure that a city of what 12,000 or so should be in the phone or cable business, same for the real estate business, the ferry business etc.

They need to put everything out on the table and let the people have a say on things, if we don’t want to have a full time fire department then we should tell them I guess. Otherwise they should provide what the standard is and find a way to redirect the cost elsewhere. Same with policing.

If the union rep is right, then we’re one bad fire away from a multi million dollar loss and that would put us further behind the eight ball than we are at the moment.    Â

Actually I believe it’s not that the City is violating WCB regulations, it’s that they are not staffing to the level WCB requires to enter a fire. That fourth person has to show up before WCB regs are met. If the firefighters entered a fire without that fourth person, then THEY would be in violation of WCB reg’s.


Ok thanks for the clarification, but still it’s the city’s policy that puts them in that position in the first place. So… would it not be best to have the staffing level at the WCB recommended rate and avoid all of the difficulties in the first place?

I believe that 4 firefighters are scheduled for each shift, but if one person is on vacation or calls in sick, that person won’t be covered for that shift and only three would be available immediately and that the fourth (or more) would have to be called in. :confused:

I think you’re right there, it would be best. I guess what the city is saying is that they can’t afford to staff to that level. In the end I just wish the city would be open about what the issue’s are, thier motives for wanting some volunteer firefighters, and things like what other city’s of comparable size do with thier departments. There is just too much disinformation out there. I remember last time this came up the fire department started up with thier scare tactics about insurance rates going up. Now they are playing up loss of life.

Frankly I would just like to see some cold hard facts and be informed on the subject.


I feel that I need to put in my 2 cents, so far all the info from the firefighters and there firefighters rep from for western canada have been on the up and up, they have the proof and are not using this as a scare tactic, like the firefighters said before about insurance rates going up, this is also true, if more losses start to happen do to reduction weather it is in police or fire departments the insurance companies will start to increase the rates of your insurance policy or they can even stop covering you and just pull out of the city. In the paper even a few of the city council members stated that this is a bad idea in making cuts from the fire department, as it stands now the city adopted a resolution a few years back that can see  each shift drop to as low as 2 members on duty, this means that when the department arrives on scene of a fire the cannot make entry till they have 4 men on scene to make wcb happy, if they do make entry with less than 4 they will be punished for this.

that a bit more than my 2 cents for now

I think the city can take some wages away from all of their top 10 money earners and end up paying for at least 1 if not 2 more firefighters. 

I shoudln’t have targeted the fire department as far as the “scare tactic’s” go. What I meant to say what that both sides do it and as a tax payer I don’t like it. Just give me the cold hard facts from both sides.


I hear what you are saying crazymike, one thing I know for sure is the firefighters have always been telling the truth and have the facts on paper, the firefighters just want the public to be informed on what is happening do to the powers to be keeping everyone in the dark, the whole reason this started again was do to some questions on a fire that happened on borden street and that the crew was on 3 and the public wanted to know why and why they did not go in right away, so then the paper ran with the story to find out why.

Just for the sake of interest, here is the actual section of the WCB OHS regulations pertaining to building entry:

31.23 Entry into buildings
(1) When self-contained breathing apparatus must be used to enter a building, or similar enclosed location, the entry must be made by a team of at least 2 firefighters.

(2) Effective voice communication must be maintained between firefighters inside and outside the enclosed location.

(3) During the initial attack stages of an incident at least one firefighter must remain outside.

(4) A suitably equipped rescue team of at least 2 firefighters must be established on the scene before sending in a second entry team and not more than 10 minutes after the initial attack.

(5) The rescue team required by subsection (4) must not engage in any duties that limit their ability to make a prompt response to rescue an endangered firefighter while interior structural firefighting is being conducted.

Now I would interpret this to mean that with a 3 person crew you could send 2 people into the building right away (with the 3rd outside in communication), but you would need the 4th person on scene within 10 minutes of sending the 2 inside the building.  Furthermore the 2 person rescue crew needed outside within 10 minutes of initial entry is rather restricted in what they can do since they need to be able to respond if a rescue is needed.  So it looks like you could send 2 people into the building right away but you would be quite limited in what else you could do to fight the fire until you had more than 5 firefighters on scene.  I’m not a firefighter so I don’t know how much you could do with 1 or 2 outside the building - or how much you search inside a building in less than 10 minutes (thinking that you would have to come back outside if the 4th person did not arrive within 10 minutes of entry).

Well turns out that the WCB website is a very interesting place to poke about in … in my previous post I quoted the OHS Regulations.  The website also contains guidelines in which the WCB seems to interpret it’s regulations.  Here is a section of the firefighting guidelines:

Section 31.23(4) allows firefighters at the scene to start their initial attack of a fire or a rescue operation involving entry if additional firefighters are expected to be on scene and able to provide a suitably equipped rescue team within 10 minutes of the start of the initial attack. To establish there are additional firefighters likely to be on the scene within 10 minutes means there needs to be effective communication between the crew at the scene, the incident commander and other firefighters being dispatched to the incident. This may be achieved either by direct communication between the firefighters or by coordination through a central dispatch. However, during this 10 minute “window”, a third firefighter must be dressed, equipped and available to be the rescue worker required by section 8.35. Generally standard operating procedures for firefighter entry into a burning building or similar enclosed area stipulate the entry team take with them a hose which is charged and capable of spraying water should the need arise. This means a firefighter or other qualified worker must remain at the fire engine pump controls and act to ensure the water supply is available to the firefighters making the entry. This pump operator cannot be the rescue worker required by section 8.35 as the pump operator cannot leave the pump to perform rescue duties. Hence the minimum number of crew required on scene prior to commencing entry into a hazardous area for the initial attack of a fire or to search for occupants would be four if a charged hose is to be taken in by the entry team. Note other equipment operators, such as the operator of an aerial platform, who are required to remain at an equipment operating position, would be in the same position as the pump operator and cannot be designated to perform rescue duties.

Here’s the link www2.worksafebc.com/Publications … Part31.asp

what that means in easier terms is that you need to have 4 firefighters repond to the call, 1 who is the pump operater must stay with the pump, the other 3 that are on scene can be used to fight the fire, 2 can enter the building and the last one must be out side with another hose line and be geared up and ready to go in if needed for a rescue, this is how the guide line works in simple terms.

Ha, ha, ha. You’re cute, pingu. I do believe the firefighters on this one but, please, ALWAYS telling the truth?? Like any group trying to protect their jobs, they spin it every now and then.

Now, back to the idea of a volunteer department: if we get that crew they had in the movie, “Roxanne,” I think we’ll be alllright. :smiley:

It is important to mention, poolboy, that the job security of the firefighters is not currently an issue. The job security of those employed there has been secured for a period of time through the collective agreement. The main concerns of the firefighters is the safety of the public ,which at this point has been compromised, and their own personal safety. You can claim to doubt the honesty of the firefighters but keep in mind that they are dealing with facts and have the best interest of the public at heart.

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

northjersey.com/page.php?qstr=eX … k2OTk1OTgw

So, did you read my post? I said I believe the firemen on this point but to accept everything they say, or anyone for that matter, is extremely naive.

And, since they are talking about the need for four firemen to respond rather than three, that seems to, indeed, be a job security issue, cuz it’s one less fireman working. It may be a safety issue too but it also has an element of job security.

AND, I will not “keep in mind that they are dealing with facts and have the best interest of the public at heart” until I see these facts and proof that they have the best interest of the public at heart.