Funding to improve Calgary firefighter response not expected until 2025, document reveals – Calgary

Calgary firefighters are disappointed with the city’s outlook for funding the fire department in its upcoming four-year budget, Global News has learned.

The new information comes after Fire Chief Steve Dongworth addressed city councilors earlier this summer with several funding options to help bolster firefighting resources and response times.

The total cost of the funding options was $52 million in operating funds and $51 million in capital funds with the addition of 315 firefighters over the next four years.

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‘It’s not sustainable’: Calgary firefighters consider increased funding to help improve response times

Preliminary budget numbers obtained by Global News indicate that the fire department’s request for that money in the next four-year budget may largely go unfunded.

The figures show that the request for capital funding – to cover things like two new fire stations and new air units – is recommended to be carried over to the next four-year budget cycle.

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However, figures show the fire department could receive $16.2 million from its operating funding request split between 2025 and 2026.

Calgary Firefighters Association President Codey McIntyre expressed concern about the potential impact on the fire department and its response times.

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High angle rescue crews were called in to secure the glass of the downtown Calgary skyscraper

« We’re at our breaking point, » McIntyre told Global News. “We’ve seen this city get bigger and bigger with eight new communities approved by city council, but your Calgary Fire Department’s budget keeps shrinking.

The funding request comes after a notice of motion from the Ward 2 Coun. Jennifer Wyness asked officials to explore the resources needed to comply with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards.

Although the NFPA standards are not a regulatory standard, they are a fire industry benchmark that includes staffing standards and response time objectives of six minutes and 20 seconds for fires.

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The city government determined that it was not possible to achieve NFPA standards in Calgary, as it would take 15 to 20 years and nearly double the current fire department budget.

At the time, Calgary Fire Department officials anticipated that implementing the options included in the funding request would contribute to a one-minute, 15-second improvement in response times to muster 12 firefighters to the scene. of a fire, otherwise known as a « response force. »

90 percent of the time, the fire department currently responds to fire calls within seven minutes and 40 seconds.

« I worry about the citizens of Calgary and I worry about your Calgary firefighters if we don’t get this funding, » McIntyre said.

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In a statement to Global News, City of Calgary Chief Financial Officer Carla Male said the city’s budget and department plans « are still being worked on » and added that the fire department of Calgary had « several applications that they have submitted for consideration ».

« The Calgary Fire Department’s service plans and budgets are part of a much larger plan to continue to make Calgary a vibrant, safe and secure place to live, work and play, » the statement said. of Male. « Working with other city departments, we are developing a thoughtful recommendation for the operating and capital budget based on population growth and inflation. »

Male added that the city council will consider the proposal « holistically » and deliberate on the budget in November.

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‘Work hard to maintain affordability’: Calgary City Council gets first look at 4-year budget

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said city council will see the fire department’s budget request and administration-recommended funding during upcoming budget discussions.

But Gondek said the problem could be an example of the lack of an oversight body for the fire department, similar to that of the Calgary Police Department.

“Because they have a police commission, they are able to pass a budget that is reviewed by the oversight body,” Gondek told Global News.

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« In the case of the Calgary Fire Department, they don’t have that capability…so they’re very dependent on (the) management team to push the request forward and have confidence that they’re asking for the right thing, or to make the adjustments.

Budget deliberations begin on November 21.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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