(THE NEWS/files) Mayor Bill Dingwall has proposed adding two more full-time firefighters.

Letter: ‘Adding firefighters right direction’

‘Pitt Meadows has changed significantly.’

Editor, The News:

Re: Budget numbers mean city can’t afford firefighters, says former mayor MacLean.

It’s concerning for me, as to how uneducated former mayor Don MacLean is about what a fully functioning, professional fire service would provide.

“Why do we need more firefighters when we have so few fires per year?’

We’ve heard it from former council member Bruce Bell. We’ve continually heard it from former mayor John Becker. And now former mayor MacLean thinks he has it all figured out.

Fire departments are not staffed due to call volume. Fire departments are staffed due to the probability of serious incidences occurring. Forty years ago, the volunteer model served Pitt Meadows well, when the most serious incident would have been a barn fire.

Present day Pitt Meadows is not the same as when former mayor Maclean was at the helm.

Present day Pitt Meadows arguably has the most potential for a serious incident to occur than any other city in the Lower Mainland.

From the CP Rail yard, that is storing as well as transporting dozens of train cars loaded with hazardous materials each day through the centre of town, I ask how many Pitt Meadows firefighters are trained to a Hazmat Technician Level, to deal with such an incident, when one occurs?

Surrounded by water, how many swift water technicians do we have to save a life?

With continuous residential and commercial building construction, let’s just keep our figures crossed and hope a worker doesn’t need rescuing from a trench cave in or a confined space.

With Lougheed Highway and bridges, first responders call it the “golden hour” – the time a seriously injured person has to get treatment at a hospital. When it takes 20 minutes or more to get an apparatus and enough crew members to the accident – not the chief’s SUV) – to start extrication, that “golden hour” has just been cut in half.

We also have an airport and no proper fire service to support it. Not sure if Mr. MacLean has looked it up lately, but there’s more than the odd single-engine Cessna landing there. Seeing more and more dual engine jet planes, I ask, is the Pitt Meadows fire service capable of handling such an incident when one occurs?

With an aging population, and an ambulance service that is in shambles, four minutes without oxygen to your brain and the damage is irreversible. Should we just cross our fingers and hope that Pitt Meadows’ new ambulance isn’t in Coquitlam, North Vancouver or Mission so that paramedics can get the AED pads on you and start CPR before it’s too late.

The Pitt Meadows fire service is so far behind that it will take decades to bring it up to speed. Adding two new full-time firefighters, as Mayor Bill Dingwall has proposed, is a step in the right direction.

I’m thankful, the new mayor and council are smart enough to realize that hope, wishful thinking, and crossing our fingers is not a strategy for public safety.

These are not scare tactics. Pitt Meadows has changed significantly and it’s time for our fire service to change.

Brandon Dougan

Pitt Meadows

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