June 14th, 2024

Fire/EMS requests significant boost to personnel

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on October 26, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services wants to hire 13 new personnel to meet existing levels of service here.

The request is contained in the preliminary budget request made to Lethbridge city council last week in its capacity as the Economic Standing Policing Committee.

The SPC will be meeting for several days in November to finalize. The City says an annual increase of 3.77 per cent will be needed over the next four years to meet existing service levels.

The forecast increase to the base budget amounts to an average of $94.20 per single family residence based on an average market value of $285,800 next year. Monthly, that equates to $7.85 per household. This figure is only preliminary with the final percentage yet to be determined by council.

The new Fire/EMS positions are dependent upon successful contract negotiations with Alberta Health Services, says the department in its funding request.

The department wants to hire four staff in the fall of 2023, another four in the spring of 2024 and five in the spring of 2025.

The department says the first arriving apparatus should reach the scene of a single family structure fire within 10 minutes 90 per cent of the time.

According to its report, the department says the first arriving unit to a single family residence in 2021 was nine minutes and 45 seconds with three firefighters on an apparatus. The second unit arrived at 11 minutes and 27 seconds with three more firefighters.

The department says four or more firefighters must be on scene to engage in internal firefighting operations, so operations couldn’t start until the 11:27 mark of the incidents.

The cost of the initiative would be $261,237 in 2023, $1,204,574 in ’24, $2,082,865 in ’25 and $2,424,011 in ’26.

The payoff, says Fire/EMS, is four-fold:

* Increased ability to provide an effective fire/rescue response;

* Increased ability to meet council’s response standard;

* Increased safety for fire responders;

* Increased opportunity to mitigate emergencies quicker, resulting in less damage and more positive outcomes.

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