21 more Vancouver firefighters needed per shift, says union

Click to play video: 'Firefighters call on new city councils to increase support'
Firefighters call on new city councils to increase support
WATCH: Vancouver firefighters are calling on the new city council to increase support in fire and rescue services ahead of next month's civic election. Nadia Stewart has more on the growing demand – Sep 25, 2018

Vancouver firefighters say they’re short-staffed when compared with “industry best practices” and need another 21 firefighters per shift or 84 altogether.

READ MORE: Vancouver firefighters and police investigate a deadly Southlands fire

Vancouver Firefighters Union spokesperson Lee Lax says there were 200 more fires last year over 2016 and they responded to 6,200 overdoses.

He says the city council elected after the Oct. 20 vote needs to improve funding for public safety.

“Your fire service is based on risk, based by your community. Communities need to take a close look at their risk profile and make sure they have enough firefighters available in the event of major incidents.”

Lax adds that 30 years ago, a person would have had about 17 minutes to escape a fire.

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Now with newer building materials, the escape time is down to three or four minutes.

READ MORE: Condo building catches fire in East Vancouver

He says Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service is failing to meet industry response time standards in many areas of the city, including the downtown core.

Vancouver mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart said, “I understand that the firefighters are stretched and will immediately review their request for additional staff.”

NPA mayoral candidate Ken Sim said he would like to learn more from firefighters and that first responders must be supported.

COPE City Council candidate Anne Roberts said:

“Firefighters’ resources are being stretched by the opioid crisis. We’ll work with all levels of government to make clean and safe drugs accessible to end the fentanyl crisis. COPE will also implement a mansion tax to end homelessness in one year so firefighters can focus on fire and safety.”

— With files from Nadia Stewart

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