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‘Stretched too thin’: Kelowna firefighters union says crews fighting fires with unsafe staffing

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The Kelowna firefighters association says they're being stretched too thin. After a string of fires Saturday afternoon, they claim they are dealing with unsafe resource issues. Jasmine King has more – Jul 25, 2022

The Kelowna Professional Firefighters Association (KPFA), says they’re forced to fight fires with unsafe staffing levels as per the National Fire Protection Association standards.

In a letter posted to social media, KPFA president Jason Picklyk said the Kelowna Fire Department (KFD), responded to an apartment fire Saturday afternoon and by standards, they should’ve had 28 firefighters on the scene within eight minutes of notification. The KFD had 23 firefighters on duty at that time.

“Not only were we already below the standard on set, there was a delay in response for one engine company (four firefighters) due to being at a medical call,” Picklyk said.

Read more: Fire activity expected to increase as extreme heat takes over Okanagan

In the letter, Picklyk details that another two 24/7 engine companies are needed in the city. Not only for the safety of Kelowna’s citizens but, for the safety of KFD members.

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At the time of Saturday’s apartment fire, a structure fire call came in across town, forcing engine companies to leave the apartment and respond to the second call.

During that time period, a boat explosion call was made at Kelowna’s downtown marina requiring more firefighters on the scene.

“The stacking of calls during this time drained resources of an already stressed resourced department. Something that is becoming commonplace in our city,” Picklyk said. “Does this sound like a properly staffed fire department?”

Read more: Fire breaks out near Okanagan Golf Club in Kelowna

The letter calls for budget changes from the City of Kelowna to deal with unsafe resource issues. Picklyk adds that Kelowna firefighters are putting their safety at risk to make sure the public is safe.

“It’s time city hall took more interest in the safety of the people of Kelowna,” Picklyk said.

Global News is seeking comment from the City of Kelowna and the Kelowna Fire Department in response to the union’s concerns.

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