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Cuts in Vancouver firefighting resources jeopardize public safety: union

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DH Vancouver Staff Feb 01, 2016 4:53 pm

The union that represents the City of Vancouver’s firefighters is calling on Mayor Gregor Robertson to change the leadership in Fire & Rescue Services due to decisions that could potentially affect public safety.

In a release, the union says Vancouver Fire Chief John McKearney asked staff to remove a fire truck from the Kitsilano station over the weekend.

“The firefighters from Medic 12 not only provide a quick response to medical emergencies, but they are positioned at the Kitsilano firehall to increase the depth of response to fire emergencies which dramatically improves our rescue response,” said Vancouver Firefighters President Robert Weeks.

“Removing these firefighters from our response to emergencies puts the public and fire fighters at an unnecessary risk.”

Additionally, the union says that is a growing trend of taking resources away from the city’s Westside neighbourhoods, including the recent decision of removing an ‘apparatus’ from Kerrisdale. It also warns that there are future plans to remove two firefighters from the downtown peninsula’s West End.

This goes against a City staff recommendation to increase staffing spending by $400,000, the union argues.

A survey conducted in 2015 indicates 94 per cent of the city firefighter’s have “no confidence” in their leadership.

“We are hopeful that Mayor Robertson and Vancouver City Council will address the situation at Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services and issue direction that will provide for the safety of citizens and fire fighters,” continued Weeks.

UPDATE: Mayor Robertson has issued the following statement:

“Public safety is always City Council’s top priority, and we are constantly looking for ways to improve emergency response. As Mayor, I have full confidence in the operational decision-making of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services and its leadership, and immense respect for the work that all Vancouver Firefighters do every day to make our city an even safer place to live.

Over the past three years, the City has invested $78 million in capital projects for Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, including $38.2 million for fire halls, $35.2 million for new fire trucks, and $3.4 million for new fire boats. Council has also increased the operating budget for Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services from $108 million in 2014 to $117 million in 2016, and we will continue our work to ensure first responders have the resources they need to fully protect our city.”

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DH Vancouver Staff
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