Big changes are coming to the Pitt Meadows Fire Department early in 2019.
Two more full-time fire safety technicians will be hired before the end of January, and a full-time chief by the end of March.
Mayor Bill Dingwall campaigned on increasing the complement of career firefighters, to have them respond to more medical emergencies.
Council held a special meeting on Dec. 3 to discuss the issue of fire service. City chief administrative officer told council former fire chief Don Jolley had asked that two more career firefighters be hired to address low turnout by paid-on-call members during the daytime on weekdays. Jolley was away on leave during the meeting, and has never commented publicly on the recommendation that two more full-time firefighters be hired.
He announced he would be retiring effective Dec. 7, just days after council’s decisions regarding the department.
Council opted to hire the firefighters, and to have the department respond to calls of chest pains and ambulance delays of 10 minutes or more – calls previously left to paramedics.
Because the new personnel are needed to respond to the lack of daytime calls, and the new medical emergencies council wants firefighters to attend, city CAO Mark Roberts said they are being hired this month.
He expects two of the department’s on-call members to be hired for the career positions, and said there are numerous well-trained candidates.
“We’re hoping to get a good competitive process from within the department,” said Roberts. “I’m pretty confident there’s going to be a fair number of applicants internally.
Filling Jolley’s position will be a longer process, expected to attract candidates from within the department, across the province and even outside of B.C., and will likely take until the end of March.