Firefighters concerned over impact of changes to department budget


Stephen Jones, president of the Kitchener Professional Fire Fighters Association, makes the case in today’s Waterloo Region Record that changes to the department’s budgets could have an undesirable impact on the department’s service when residents need it most. He refers to the revised budget as being cut even though it wasn’t as explained by Councillor Scott Davey.

I wanted to post a link to the column so that this perspective on the issue was available in addition to what was included in my previous posts. I also wanted to make a comment or two.

I think the most important sentence is the following:

Consequently, on Jan. 30, fire department administrators began the practice of fire apparatus “brownouts” in Kitchener.

To me this indicates that the decision to reduce service hours of an aerial truck is an administration decision. While I don’t envy their difficult position, it reinforces that this is a management decision. It may be the best decision but it is up to the fire department’s management to decide how to respond to council’s decision. While I would have preferred a different result, I trust that this decision was not taken if it put citizen’s safety unacceptably at risk. I hope over the next year that an internal review of operations and practices can find a better solution.

So I suspect, I may be included in his concluding remarks:

Some supporters of Kitchener city council’s decision to reduce fire service feel these cost-cutting measures are a necessary risk, but it is the opinion of the Kitchener Professional Fire Fighters Association that reducing the level of fire protection has the potential to put the citizens of the city of Kitchener at an unnecessary risk.

As I outlined in my first post, I think the increased budget received by the fire department should not create an unnecessary risk to anyone. As I expect Council does, I look to the fire department to use their budget so that it does not happen.

If taking one aerial truck out of operation for 20% of the time does by definition put citizens of Kitchener at an unnecessary risk, we have a bigger problem. I expect that we have agreements in place with Waterloo and Cambridge to assist with their equipment in a worst case scenario. If we don’t, we should. Or even better, we should create a regional fire department so that equipment can be situated where it can best serve everyone in the Region of Waterloo.

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