Firefighter Shortage -- Sudbury Ontario Canada
Found this article in the Sudbury Star, Sudbury is in the northern part of Ontario.
Firefighters needed in Valley: ex-chief
Testifying at fire inquest, Rob Browning says full-time force needed to prevent future tragedies
By Harold Carmichael/The Sudbury Star
Greater Sudbury’s former fire chief told a coroner’s inquest Thursday that Valley East needs a full-time fire service.
“I have a great respect for the Valley East fire service,” said Rob Browning. “But in terms of reactivity and efficiency, a full-time service is where they need to be.”
Browning, who is now the fire chief in Kitchener, was testifying at an inquest examining a fatal fire in Hanmer last year.
The April 22, 2001, blaze on Roy Street in Hanmer killed Asha-Jade McLean, 3, her brother Ellias, 4, and their great-grandmother Pearl Shaw, 75. The inquest was called after many in the community questioned whether the fire service, which is staffed mainly by volunteer firefighters, responded properly to the fire. The goal of an inquest is not to lay blame, but to develop recommendations designed to prevent similar tragedies.
Browning was fire chief when the City of Greater Sudbury was created in 2001. Among his responsibilities was to oversee the merger of seven fire departments, including Valley East.
Browning said that in the early part of 2001, there were “significant deficiencies in some of the services, but Valley East wasn’t the one that would (have) caught my attention.”
Those deficiencies included safety issues such as proper helmets and bunker suits to meet safety standards
Browning said that the amalgamation process is “probably still a work in progress.”
He also told the inquest that he presented several options to Greater Sudbury councillors during the 2002 budget process to improve the level of fire service in the old city of Valley East.
- adding two full-time fire prevention officers to improve the level of fire safety in the community;
- adding a full-time fire training officer to boost the amount of annual training Valley East firefighters receive;
- hiring four full-time firefighters to have an adequate response Monday to Friday during business hours, a time when the community’s volunteer firefighters tend not to be available due to work commitments; and
- hiring 11 full-time firefighters to have four firefighters on hand at the central Val Therese station 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Out of the 18 new employees that Browning sought, council only approved hiring a trainer.
In 2001, Valley East had five full-time firefighters, one full-time firefighter/fire prevention officer and 45 volunteer firefighters. Browning also defended the firefighters who tackled the fatal fire.
“I and my senior staff have a responsibility to hold the fire service together despite what happened in this particular fire,” he said. “They were upset.
“They were hurt by the reaction in the community for what they did. They thought they did their best effort.”
And the story behind the story?
Thanks to some of you folks who post in a cohesive manner, I have picked up a lot of the background here and my biggest question is: Was the old system so dysfunctional that "Amalgamation" was needed? And I have to ask why replace volunteers with career crews?? I have no problem with putting on career staff, but add them to what is already there and improve service. REPLACING people with other people who do the same job seems.....well.....Stupid. No doubt most of you have seen posts in other threads about people who wish to live in a rural environment, but receive urban services from government. Looks like the same thing here. My hat is off to those Firefighters who have been swept up in this. They deserve better from those they serve. Stay Safe....