Replenishing firefighters in Sault Ste. Marie
Published Wednesday, March 21, 2018 3:59PM EDT
After more than two years of turmoil between the City of Sault Ste. Marie and its fire department, it appears greener pastures lay ahead.
On Monday, council decided to hire more firefighters, a move that comes after the city trimmed 20 positions through attrition since 2016.
The firefighter’s union says the move is bittersweet.
Members of the Professional Fire Fighters Association were calling for a comprehensive risk assessment to be done for Sault Ste. Marie, since cuts were announced more than two years ago.
Monday, after reviewing the fire master plan, council agreed to increase staff from 3 per firetruck to 4.
Richard Bishop is the President of the Sault Ste. Marie Professional Firefighters.
"I think four on the truck allows us to do our job faster, to get started on the rescue operations and fire operations quicker and it's best for us and the community." said Bishop.
All along the union says safety has been a concern since staffing was cut from 88 to 68.
With the addition of eight people, officials say the department will once again meet generally accepted guidelines
"What it says is: you need 15 firefighters, with an aerial device present at a single family dwelling, a house, a house fire, to be able to effectively do all the operations such as rescue, firefighting, ventilation, so on and so forth." said Bishop.
Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Christian Provenzano says moving to 76 fire fighters was always the plan, even under former Fire Chief Mike Figliola's lead.
However, he admits, the city could have taken a better path to reach this outcome.
"Now we have a very defined plan on how to move forward with fire services. We have a chief who is working with the union to work through some of those things, because this is a process now. There is a number of things that have to happen. We'll keep on working on it and we'll make sure the community gets the fire service, a sustainable fire service." said Provenzano.
The mayor says the process to add eight fire fighters will begin immediately as senior fire staff have a recruitment list to hire from.