Oshawa needs more frontline firefighters: new report

Click to play video: 'New report calls for more frontline firefighters in Oshawa'
New report calls for more frontline firefighters in Oshawa
After the January fire in Oshawa that killed four people, the city's firefighters association commissioned an investigation into fire services. As Jasmine Pazzano explains, the report says Oshawa needs to step up its resources – Oct 4, 2018

The City of Oshawa needs to boost its frontline firefighting resources, an investigation into its fire services finds.

The Oshawa Professional Firefighters Association commissioned a North American firefighting union to conduct the report, which the association released Thursday, following January’s fatal fire in the city that killed four people, including two children.

“This event… was the tipping point for our members and our association,” said Peter Dyson, the president of the OPFFA. “We started to ask questions, but we wanted to get it right.”

After analyzing the city’s response times and personnel numbers, the International Association of Fire Fighters found Oshawa Fire Services is operating below industry standards on many levels, including response times. The National Fire Protection Association standard states the first-arriving firefighters should be on scene within four minutes of travel to most structure-fire incidents, but after looking at data from 2015 to 2017, the IAFF found Oshawa’s time is six minutes.

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“We’re calling on the city to heed its findings, he said. “We don’t think [it] can, in good conscience, dismiss this report or ignore it. We need to change how this fire department is run in this city.”

The IAFF recommends that in dense urban areas, Oshawa should up its staffing to five or six firefighters in a truck versus four, which is how many the city has per truck right now.

Through the report, it also says the city should add another truck, staffed with at least four firefighters, to Fire Station 1, which responded to the deadly fire on Centre St. North in January.

Dyson says the station had two trucks, but one was relocated to another station in the city last year, but he is urging Oshawa to bring it back to Station 1. The area this station covers includes Oshawa’s downtown core, which the report says is likely to have a fire incident because it is a dense area with older buildings, among other factors.

“We do need more resources,” said Doug Sanders, an Oshawa councillor. “As we develop our downtown, we’re going to need more aerial equipment because we’re building higher.”

Mayor John Henry, however, says he believes the city’s fire resources are up to par. “I can say to the residents of Oshawa that we have six fire halls that are all staffed with vehicles, four firefighters per truck… that we have met the needs of the city as we’ve started to grow.”

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The upcoming election could impact the city in making any decisions about the report, as Oshawa residents will be voting in a new mayor, and possibly many new councillors, come Oct. 22.

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