Request to build two new fire halls on Monday executive committee agenda

Members of the Prince Albert Fire Fighters Association are asking city council to build two fire halls on opposite sides of the city to provide better response time.

The association says the move would not require additional equipment, as the current resources could be evenly divided between the two new fire halls. They’ve also recommended staffing each station with a minimum of nine fire fighters per shift.

Association president Jeff Reeder will give a presentation on the matter at Monday’s executive committee meeting. A copy of the proposal is included in the meeting agenda. City administrators have recommended forwarding it to the 2021 budget meetings.

“By responding quickly to a fire, fire fighters can keep a small incident small,” the proposal reads. “When responses take more than the prescribed timeframe, losses escalate substantially, resulting in a greater loss of life and property. Communities with good records of emergency response times enhance the quality of life for current residents and may help attract new residents and businesses.”

The National Fire Protection Association sets guidelines and standards that govern fire departments in Canada and the United States. They adopted the NFPA 1710 guidelines in 2001 after 10 years of research. Those guidelines call for departments to respond with a minimum of four fire fighters per truck, and arrive on scene within five minutes and 20 seconds of receiving a call, 90 per cent of the time.

The association says response time to the southeast part of Prince Albert are more than double the NFPA standard. They also cite four studies, the most recent of which was conducted in 2008, showing the City of Prince Albert needed at least three fire stations to provide adequate coverage.

“Without changing the response protocols or adding fire halls as prescribed by the previous studies, the lives and property of the citizens of Prince Albert are at risk,” the proposal reads. “This delay creates a great risk of life and property loss because the long response time gives the fire time to grow in size and intensity, making it more difficult for the fire fighters to gain control and extinguish.”

The Prince Albert Fire Department currently operates out of a single location on 15th Street East. The association says they’ve responded to emergencies with the same number of firefighters since 1982, while calls for service have tripled during that time. According to 2020 budget documents, the department currently has 50 full-time equivalent positions.

They did not recommend potential locations for the new fire halls as part of their proposal.

The City of Prince Albert conducted studies in 1985 and 1989 to determine whether to build additional fire stations. The International Association of Fire Fighters Association (IAFF) also suggested Prince Albert build additional fire stations in 2007.

The presentation is one of 10 items on a short executive committee meeting agenda. Other items include an update on how COVID-19 is impacting city finances from Financial Services Director Cheryl Tkachuk, and a report on the proposed Little Red Mountain Bike Skills Park from Parks Manager Tim Yeaman.

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