From Kawartha Lakes This Week newspaper:

The Ontario Fire Marshal's office is urging the City of Kawartha Lakes to send more firefighters to each call across the municipality.

Paul Leslie, manager of monitoring and engineering for the Ontario Fire Marshal (OFM), spoke to the emergency services committee meeting Monday afternoon regarding the number of firefighters going to calls.

Enough firefighters should be sent to each call - at least 10 - regardless of whether a fire had been detected.

This would include emergency calls labelled as false alarms, accidents or malicious, he said. Trouble might arise if only two or three on-duty staff answer a call that turns out to be a real fire, Mr. Leslie added.

About 10 per cent of all calls turn out to be for actual fires, he said.

"At the least, 10 firefighters would be necessary to do effective firefighting," he added.

The number of firefighters on scene, along with response times, are crucial to fighting fires, Mr. Leslie said.

The office of the fire marshal also had sent the City a letter Feb. 17 stating its concerns about not sending adequate firefighters to a fire.

"Considering the very limited actions able to be performed effectively and safely by so few firefighters, this is a serious concern," the letter reads.

Additional firefighters would be delayed if a call turned out to be real and only on-duty personnel were there, the letter says.

The director of emergency services, Dave Guilbault, told This Week that only three firefighters responding to a fire is inadequate. But if a building, such as a house, school or hospital, were actually on fire, both full-time and volunteer firefighters would be called to the scene.

"In that situation, without delay, volunteers are paged," Mr. Guilbault said.

So, ample staff would be present if there was actually a fire, he said.

Just full-time staff are called if an alarm goes off before 8 p.m., and firefighters don't know whether anything is burning, Mr. Guilbault said.

Staff at facilities such as schools are well-informed about procedures to deal with alarms, he added.

If smoke or a fire were detected before firefighters arrived, volunteers would be paged. The delay would only be about a minute, Mr. Guilbault said.

That procedure changes after 8 p.m., he added.

"If a call comes in for an alarm condition (after 8 p.m.), then it's a full response," he said, adding volunteers would be paged immediately.