New Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall supports hiring more full-time firefighters, and the city is hosting a special meeting about emergency response service levels on Dec. 3. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)

Public meeting set to discuss more career firefighters

Critics say Pitt Meadows taxpayers can’t afford more

Pitt Meadows council will be hosting a special meeting on Monday, Dec. 3, to discuss the need for more full-time firefighters in the city.

Mayor Bill Dingwall said both the public and the new council will learn the city is not getting the same level of emergency response as others in the Lower Mainland.

“I really want to stress that I have a lot of respect for our firefighters and what they do,” added Dingwall.

The issue is the service levels authorized by council – what calls they are expected to attend, he said.

“I clearly don’t think they are where they need to be.”

During the mayoralty campaign, he proposed adding two new career firefighters, and increasing the number of medical emergency calls that will be attended by the local department.

For example, he said they do not attend calls about chest pains, where firefighters in neighbouring municipalities do.

The department has five full-time staff and 35 paid on call members.

Dingwall said Pitt Meadows has become a training centre where firefighters learn the trade.

Afterwards, they are often hired into full-time positions in neighbouring municipalities.

“Their talents are being harvested by departments that surround us in the Lower Mainland,” Dingwall said. “Because that happens, we are in constant training mode. That’s not effective, and that’s not efficient.”

Each career firefighter will cost the city approximately $125,000.

“How are we going to pay for these two firemen?” William Wild, a Pitt Meadows resident, asked Dingwall at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Wild noted that council is starting the budget planning process with a recommendation for a 5.75 per cent increase from city hall staff.

He called that a big hike from other years.

“My neighbours and I are quite curious as to how is the structure going to be? Is that two firefighters inside of 5.75 per cent, or is that an additional cost.”

Dingwall answered that decisions will be made over the coming weeks during budgeting and more information will be made available at the Dec. 3 meeting, which is the next step in the process.

“It’s totally unnecessary to have two more firefighters,” said Norma Murray, who along with her late husband Tom led a petition in 2012 to pass a budget with no residential tax increase.

“I don’t believe the stats support this” she added.

She doesn’t think adding more full-time firefighters warrants having taxes go up, and said it is particularly hard on people who are on a fixed income.

“Our seniors are scared, especially those who are still in their own homes and have been able to make it with the low taxes up to now.”

Dingwall said the issue of emergency response service levels will have to be considered in the context of balancing the budget.

However, he added that emergency response is also about potentially saving lives, reducing injury impacts and offering relief to residents in the most stressful of situations.

“On a priority list, public safety rates right at the top,” he said.

Much of the technical information presented next Monday, from 799 p.m., will be from the 2016 Summary Report on Fire Rescue Services.

That report found that the paid-on-call staffing model works well in Pitt Meadows, results in excellent response times, excellent turnout at calls, and low operating costs, an estimated one-third of what it would cost to run a career staffed department.

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

Just Posted

Man clings to roof of car driving along busy road in Maple Ridge

The man was also seen jumping on the vehicle

Intergenerational Garden in Maple Ridge set to close if funding not found

The teaching garden brought together seniors and children

Winter Family Fun Fair a joy for all

Maple Ridge Public library hosted literacy event featured 27 exhibitors

Untrending: Who wants to be perceived as ruthless, pushy, or striving?

A closer look at how to set and achieve goals.

Famous skateboard residence goes up for sale in Maple Ridge

Kyle Dion’s house on Stoney Avenue has a backyard feature few others can boast

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

Most Read