PITT MEADOWS, BC – Council has approved a recommendation to add two career fire safety technicians (FSTs) to the Pitt Meadows Fire Rescue Service (PMFRS). This decision comes after considering department challenges and data collected over the last year related to service calls, response times, and comparative staffing levels for fire rescue services in the region.
The two new career FSTs will bring the total number of full-time FSTs in the department to four. The department also includes a fire chief, two assistant chiefs and 29 paid-on-call (volunteer) firefighters.
Mayor Bill Dingwall said, “Public safety is a priority of Council and the community and this is part of an incremental plan to get us where we need to be. Over the past decade, Pitt Meadows has changed, and our servicing in some areas hasn’t kept pace. We have seen significant increases in traffic on the Golden Ears and Pitt River Bridges, unprecedented growth and development, and expanded use of airport and train services. All of these place additional demands on our fire rescue service—an essential community service.”
“At the same time,” he added, “There has been serious attrition in the department, as many of our highly trained and experienced paid-on-call firefighters, have been recruited to career fire departments in the region. Creating new career positions in Pitt Meadows will help us to recruit and retain skilled members for our team.”
The addition of the two FSTs will increase staff coverage from 40 to 77 hours per week and result in better service levels for community and better response during peak times (from 6 to 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 6 p.m.), when volunteer firefighters are often working outside of Pitt Meadows.
The proposed budget for the new career firefighters is $303,700, including $30,000 for paid-on-call firefighters to backfill vacation time and $30,000 for the PMFRS to attend additional medical calls for chest pain and ambulance delays. This will mean a tax increase of approximately $28 per single family home or $15 per multi-family dwelling. The fire services budget represents approximately 6.6 per cent of the annual municipal budget.
About Pitt Meadows Fire Rescue Service
The Pitt Meadows Fire Rescue Service (PMFRS) serves the City of Pitt Meadows by protecting life, property and the environment from fire and other risks. The combination department, which includes both career staff and paid-on-call volunteers, is responsible for fire suppression and rescue; fire prevention, inspection and public safety programs; fire investigations; fire-related bylaw enforcement; participation in emergency management and response; medical response as first responders; and ongoing staff and volunteer training.