Fire fighters tweet complaints

The Port Moody fire fighters union Local 2399 wants to see at least four fire fighters on shift at the Glenayre hall, similar to the standard for the Town Centre hall (pictured). - FILE PHOTO/TRI-CITY NEWS
The Port Moody fire fighters union Local 2399 wants to see at least four fire fighters on shift at the Glenayre hall, similar to the standard for the Town Centre hall (pictured).
— image credit: FILE PHOTO/TRI-CITY NEWS

Port Moody firefighters took to the Twitter-verse over the weekend to complain about understaffing at Fire Hall #2 in Glenayre.

Beginning on Saturday, March 10, a post from the International Association of Fire Fighters Union Local 2399 Twitter feed (@IAFFLocal2399) said reduced staffing "could effect [sic] our ability to perform rescues."

That was followed by a post complaining that there is "50k for glass art, no $$ for recommended safe staffing?"

Two more posts followed on Sunday, again complaining of reduced staffing that put rescue capabilities at risk. "Staffing below industry standards compromises public safety," read the latest post from about 8 p.m. Sunday. (The Twitter page was still live Monday but not on Tuesday morning.)

PoMo Mayor Mike Clay disagrees with the firefighters' tweeted opinions.

"I know what their issue is," he said. "We're not jeopardizing anyone's safety."

Clay said over the weekend, two firefighters were off sick and another was on holiday, leaving Fire Hall #2 with three firefighters on shift instead of the usual four. That's enough to respond to car accidents and other medical emergencies, he said, but not in the case of a structure fire, though such incidents are rare.

"There's specific fire emergencies we can't send only three people into" because of WorkSafe BC regulations, Clay said.

Firefighters from the Glenayre hall could still respond to a fire but wouldn't be able to enter a building. Besides, Clay added, "if we had an actual fire call, we would send people from both halls," and, if it were serious enough, the department would draw on its volunteer force and its mutual-aid agreements with neighbouring municipalities such as Coquitlam and Burnaby.

"Our management is talking to their union right now and asking why they're doing that," Clay said. "We don't agree with what they're saying."

Rob Suzukovich, president of the IAFF Local 2399, said he posted the tweets because of an "unresolved staffing issue."

"We're not maintaining the recommended staffing level of four" firefighters on shift, he said, "which has the ability to have a huge impact as far as performing rescues."

There may be fewer fires to fight, Suzukovich said, but modern construction and furnishing materials mean today's fires are more aggressive.

And given the fire department master plan recommends having eight firefighters on at all times, with four at each hall, Suzukovich said, allowing one hall to be staffed by only three people means not all PoMo residents are getting the same level of service.

"Tax dollars are tight but people want to know their safety is being accounted for," he said.

After Fire Hall #2 was renovated about six years ago, two firefighters staffed it during daytime hours; calls from Glenayre and surrounding neighbourhoods that came in after hours and on weekends would be responded to by volunteers and staff from Fire Hall #1. Since then, additional firefighters have been hired to staff the hall on a 24/7 basis.


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