Saturday, October 14, 2017

Could Tragic Fire Deaths Have Been Avoided?

By adopting recommendations of
Nanaimo Fire Department Study?

What I offer here is based on my memory of what was presented to the previous city council of Nanaimo. I realize memory can be less than accurate but believe this to be a fair report on that event.

Under a request from Councilor Grieves Fire Chief Lambert undertook a study of how to best make use of the resources available to the Nanaimo fire department. I was present at the council meeting when the study was presented and remember how coolly it was received by Grieves and some other members of council.

The consultant that had been hired to evaluate how Nanaimo Fire Dept. resources were being used and to make recommendations going forward addressed council with a well prepared presentation.

It was at this meeting that I first heard of the advantages of using two man, rapid response firetrucks and methods to utilize the time when firefighters are not actually 'working'. If memory serves it was reported that about 50% of the time a firefighter is 'on duty' they are not being called upon.

The study had analyzed structure fires in Nanaimo and if memory serves, it was Fire Hall #1 that dealt with the vast percentage of those calls.

One of the thrusts in the report was a strategy adopted by other departments, in England I believe, whereby firemen went into areas where structure fires were most often occurring. In these areas the fireman proactively went to each household and made sure a functioning smoke detector was in place. If not, I believe they were even installing them during that visit.

To me, the whole study made a lot of sense but got the immediate push-back from the firefighters and their union who clearly were not in favour of the idea of the two man firetrucks.

Since that time Chief Lambert left the city, and that was the last I ever heard about the two man firetrucks as the door was solidly shut on that proposal.

At the beginning of this council, Bestwick introduced the motion that would carve in stone the four-man firetrucks we are now paying for. This I believe was actually done before the final fire department plan had been adopted. I think the backroom pressure by the IAFF and the local members finally bore fruit with Bestwick's motion.

To the point of the headline ...... had that plan been adopted, and firefighters had been actively engaged in making sure functioning smoke alarms are in place, could the recent death of three residents been avoided?


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