Oshawa firefighters demand action after commissioning report on city’s fire services

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The Oshawa Professional Firefighters Association is calling for more action from the city in a report that analyses response times and personnel numbers. But four months after that report came out, firefighters say they have been stonewalled by the city. Aaron Streck reports – Jan 23, 2019

The Oshawa Professional Firefighters Association is calling for action from the city after an October report commissioned by the organization claimed the city’s fire services need to improve in order to meet industry standards.

The organization commissioned the report following a fire that claimed the lives of four people last January.

Now, it wants council to fix several issues highlighted in the report, but four months after its release, firefighters say they have been stonewalled by the city.

“The response has been very frustrating. We haven’t heard anything officially from the city, we’ve had one meeting with management on the report that lasted less than an hour,” said Peter Dyson, president of the Oshawa Professional Firefighters Association.

READ MORE: Oshawa needs more frontline firefighters: new report

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Fire Station No. 1 is right in the heart of Oshawa and used to house two fire trucks up until a couple years ago.

“We went down to one truck in the most vulnerable area in the city — the area in the city that has the most calls, the most fire calls and the most intense fire calls, and that can all be seen in our report, based on the city’s own data,” said Dyson.

Dyson has been sitting in on the 2019 city budget deliberations, hoping that council will bring up the report and find the funds needed to improve resources for firefighters.

READ MORE: Residents in downtown Oshawa face higher risk of being fire casualties: report

Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter said the city has yet to delve into these issues.

“Items dealing with fire services have not been dealt with yet by the community services committee,” Carter said in a statement.

“In addition, labour relations are ongoing so commenting at this time on any fire services issues would be premature.”

Besides adding another fire truck to Fire Station No. 1 and staffing it with four front-line firefighters, the report also recommends that Oshawa change how firefighters respond to fires in the city.

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“Right now, we send 13 firefighters; the industry standard calls for 15. That can be changed immediately, today,” said Dyson.

READ MORE: No working smoke alarms in Oshawa house where fire killed 4: investigator

The association says it is going to keep advocating for these changes and is willing to take legal action in order to appear before council as a delegation to discuss the matter on behalf of the public.

“We’re going to keep pushing forward until this city meets the industry standards and puts the fire truck back here and sends the proper amount of firefighters on a call,” said Dyson.

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