Pitt Meadows council held online budget sessions on Monday and Tuesday.

Pitt Meadows council held online budget sessions on Monday and Tuesday.

Pitt Meadows approves four new career firefighters

New council will have added six over three years

Pitt Meadows city council has approved the hiring of four new full-time firefighters over the next two city budgets.

Two of the Fire Safety Technicians (FSTs) will be hired on April 1, 2021 and the other two on Oct. 2 of 2021. The result will be a 0.93 per cent tax increase in 2021 and 2022.

That will be six career firefighters added over three years under the new council.

“We’ve jumped forward in terms of public safety, in a big way,” said Mayor Bill Dingwall, adding the new additions will give the department better options for coverage.

There were long discussions about the new additions during business planning meetings on Monday and Tuesday.

“Council duked it out a bit,” is how Dingwall characterized it, although most of the discussion was about when the firefighters should be hired.

Councillors generally agreed they are needed.

“In no other department do we have volunteers who are really working in the department,” noted Coun. Tracy Miyashita. “Our works yard we have full-time staff, and our parks and rec, our library, we don’t run policing with auxiliary here. But this is one are where we are always debating the need for full-time staff, which is crazy to me, to think this way.”

She said it is an issue of safety.

“We’re putting your crew at risk by under-funding this department,” she told fire chief Mike Larsson. “I’m not personally willing to put a price on the lives of our firefighters.”

Coun. Nicole MacDonald agreed fire protection is under funded as a percentage of the city budget, compared with neighbouring communities.

“Our POC model, while it has served us well, is outdated. We have a huge attrition rate. We saw between $500,000 and $650,000 dollars go out the door in experience and training over the past two years.”

READ ALSO: Old Pitt Meadows firehall reduced to rubble

There are eight full-time positions at the fire hall: The chief, two deputy chiefs, an administrative assistant and four FSTs. There are also 36 paid-on-call firefighters.

Dingwall said Larsson offered a fire service review that exposed gaps in service levels. A significant problem, he noted, is the city can’t retain its paid on-call firefighters. Once they are fully trained, they are able to apply for full-time positions in cities.

“They’re getting picked off by other departments,” said Dingwall.

The lack of retention has created issues on the ground, like not having enough personnel who are qualified to drive the fire trucks, and generally low experience levels. It was noted that only only five POCs are qualified to can drive all of the department’s apparatus. There is also low attendance at daytime calls.

Staff will present council with its final budget numbers on Dec. 7.



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City CouncilfirefightersPitt Meadows

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue swift water team drives up the Lower Falls trail at Golden Ears Park to help a women who lost her way. (Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue/ Facebook)
Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue aid woman stranded by waterfall

Hiker found herself unsure of the way back while walking in Maple Ridge’s Golden Ears Park

Coun. Chelsa Meadus
Maple Ridge councillor calls out province on homelessness

MLA says he has been willing to meet with the city, more addiction treatment coming

Maple Ridge city hall recently conducted a citizen satisfaction survey.
Homelessness and poverty detracting from quality of life in Maple Ridge

Citizen survey shows more than three quarters of residents are satisifed

The intersection at Harris Road and Lougheed Highway (Google)
LETTER: Pitt Meadows resident wonders why traffic signals not updated

A local man has contacted the city and road contractor with concerns to no avail

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

BC Place Stadium in a photo posted to cisc-icca.ca.
Roof of BC Place a stage for performers during online music festival

‘This will be the first time any artists have performed from the 204-foot iconic Vancouver rooftop’

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Most Read