Oshawa Fire expecting to add new trucks and 33 firefighters over the next ten years

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Published May 4, 2022 at 9:51 am

Oshawa Fire Services wants to hire 33 new firefighters over the next ten years, with a new pumper truck, one training officer and an apprentice mechanic on the wish list in that time period, with more staffing asks beyond that as the city continues its rapid growth.

The department is seeking Council’s approval for its 10-year Staffing Model at a special meeting of Oshawa Council Friday. The model was drafted with the help of Dillon Consulting as part of the 2020 Fire Master Plan and Community Risk Assessment.

Already approved is a $640,000 Rapid Response Vehicle (which will also function as a Hazmat Command Post) and a new pumper/rescue truck is also being requested prior to the construction of Fire Station #7 in 2026-2028.

The truck would be stationed and staffed at Fire Station 5 or 6 until the new station is built and is expected to improve response capabilities at stations 3,5 and 6 during that time. There are currently six stations and 195 staff at Oshawa Fire.

Post-2028, when the City of Oshawa is expected to top 200,000 in population, the department is proposing to add an additional 21 officers and a District Chief, with Fire Station #8 to be built in that window as well.

The Staffing Model is intended to provide Council with the potential schedule and cost estimates for operating the department over the next decade and beyond. The report was developed utilizing industry best practices, continuous improvement and rate of growth, staff experience and historical call volumes, along with input from Council.

The total staffing bill over the next ten years is estimated at $12 million, with the bill jumping to $25 million if Fire Station 8 is opened and staffed with 21 firefighters and one District Chief.

The report also recommends the “immediate” implementation of an attendance support program to lower absenteeism. A “robust” attendance program with staffing increases will achieve an overtime reduction starting in 2024 and attempts to target zero non-emergency overtime by 2025, the report declared.

This would mean an annual savings of around $1 million in overtime costs which would be supported by the hiring of new staff.

Future savings in capital investments can also be achieved by combining the proposed Operations Center at Harmony Rd North with Fire Station 7 and training grounds.

Oshawa Fire Services responds to more than 5,000 emergency calls each year in its 147.5 square kilometre territory and attended 1,128 fires in the past five years, with about half incurring no loss. The total estimated value lost to the other fires, however, was $47,748,476, with residential fires accounting for three-quarters of the total loss.

The report to Council is available here.

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