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Eight new firefighters will join the ranks of the FT to better protect the city

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The City Council approved expanding Belleville Fire and Emergency Services’ hiring of new firefighters ahead of schedule to better protect a growing city.

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The board gave the nod last month to bring four new captains on board starting Jan. 1, 2025, at a cost of $543,500.

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Also approved was the hiring of four new firefighters beginning Jan. 1, 2025, at a budget of $370,000, rather than later.

The budget items will be covered by tax revenues.

In a report to city council ahead of a soon-to-be-released public Fire Master Plan, Fire Chief Dan Smith, director of Fire and Emergency Services, said the new hires have been pre-approved for 2023-2025 by the city council earlier.

Additional personnel will be needed to staff a third pumper newly purchased by the city to meet the growing demand in the city, especially when the fire department is fielding multiple calls that require split response, Smith said.

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“Staffing this additional pumper further expands urban compliment capabilities, reduces additional call back hours and creates efficiencies in using an additional pumper to respond to both urban and rural areas for quick response,” Smith informed.

“The additional pump is already in operation without the need to purchase additional capital. The completion of the third manned pumper will allow services to be expanded to assist volunteer responses and will provide the council with options when considering the replacement of Station 4 as outlined in the fire masterplan document.”

Smith said in recent years, “call volume in the urban area has grown about 15 to 20 percent annually. This increase in call volume increases the number of occurrences where fire personnel respond to multiple calls simultaneously. The number of resources and apparatus required at an incident correlates directly with the nature of the call.”

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The city’s fire department is weighing a third city station to handle the increased demand, he said.

“Coupled with the third pumping will be the further review of a third urban station in the northern half of the urban area, which is an initiative to significantly reduce response times. A side report will be presented on this topic.”

cone Garnet Thompson asked Smith, “Do we expect the volume (of new firefighters) to decrease firefighter overtime with new firefighters right now?”

Smith responded to the council “where we will see some savings in overtime will be through our callback system. As the council knows, often when we have a large incident it requires us to call in extra staff from our full-time ranks and that again causes overtime.”

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cone Paul Carr thanked the chief for moving to better protect urban and rural residents.

He said the hires represent an increase in funding that “is about $22 a year on an average $250,000 valuation, and that’s looking at it as a core service.”

“For the fire service to be at optimum operational capacity, this integration is needed and we have professional firefighters on both sides, both full-time and volunteer, but for us to protect our community and have adequate response times … every man counts and that certainly goes a long way,” Carr said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Neil Ellis and Smith handed out fire medals in the city’s fire council chambers on Monday and thanked them for their service.

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Jason Vye, Ed Keuning, Kevin Fisher received 20-year federal medals, while Steve Parks was presented with a 20-year federal medal as well as a 25-year provincial medal.

Other firefighters received medals among their peers, Smith said.

Parks’ wife, Sarah, received a special pin in recognition of her support.

Fire Chief Smith also thanked two Deputy Chiefs Jim Young and Mark Shannon for their support.

“They’ve had my back and it’s been a huge success for us over the last year, so I just want to thank those two guys as well,” said Smith, now entering his second year as the city’s fire chief. and emergency services.

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