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Winnipeg fire paramedic resources ‘severely taxed’ according to chief

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Chief John Lane says major incidents like this warehouse fire on July 22, 2019 "severely tax" their resources.
Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Chief John Lane says major incidents like this warehouse fire on July 22, 2019 "severely tax" their resources.

It’s been a very busy year for Winnipeg’s Fire and Paramedic Service.

The services says firefighters have responded to 702 structural fires so far in 2019, compared to 690 in total for 2018. As well, Fire Paramedic Chief John Lane told Global News Sunday that paramedics have conducted well over 50,000 medical transports this year.

READ MORE: City of Winnipeg departments propose closing fire hall, libraries and pools amid budget caps

“In terms of our EMS capability, we are really at our capacity,” said Lane. “We have not had new ambulance resources in our city since 2011, and call volume has increased 20 per cent in the ensuing time period. We are really finding that our ambulance paramedics are working at or actually beyond their capacity.”

Fire prevention tips after a string of early morning blazes
Fire prevention tips after a string of early morning blazes

Lane credits an increasing and aging population, as well as the current meth crisis, for the increase in paramedic calls.

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LISTEN ABOVE: Winnipeg Fire Chief John Lane speaks with Clay Young on 680 CJOB

As far as the fires go, Lane points out that Winnipeg has the oldest housing stock in all of Canada. “We have a number of vacant buildings that are, with increasing frequency, targets for accidental arson with homeless people looking to stay warm,” he says.

READ MORE: Warehouse as big as a city block on fire in Winnipeg’s North End

Lane adds that when major incidents happen, such as the large warehouse fire on Jarvis Avenue this past summer, fire resources are “severely taxed.”

Man arrested after fire truck stolen in Winnipeg
Man arrested after fire truck stolen in Winnipeg