Napanee firefighters call on council to approve budget to hire four full-time staff

A GNES fire truck. File photo.

The following is a press release from The Greater Napanee Professional Firefighters Association

The Greater Napanee Professional Firefighters Association is urging the mayor and council of Greater Napanee to follow the recommendation of fire chief Bill Hammond and approve the hiring of four full-time firefighters in the 2024 budget.

The fire fighters association notes the Town of Greater Napanee continues to grow with new development, new businesses, and increasing population, leading to an increase in demand in the local fire department. They say Napanee’s fire department is understaffed compared to similar municipalities.

Full-time firefighters are on shift from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. They are calling for council to expand coverage to all hours. Additional staff are required to increase the hours of full-time coverage, ease pressure on our volunteer firefighters, and provide a higher level of service to residents.

“When there is a fire, seconds matter regarding protecting life and property,” Chris Tyner, president of Greater Napanee Professional Fire Fighters Local 2822 said in a release. “Having full-time firefighters on shift 24 hours a day will ensure a quick response at all hours, and this is what the public expects. Over the past year, our daytime crews responded swiftly and effectively to multiple fires. It takes four to six minutes for our volunteer firefighters to get to the station and assemble on the trucks. If these same fires had happened after 6 p.m. and had an additional four to six minutes to grow, the outcome would have been drastically different.”

“We have a highly trained and dedicated group of volunteer firefighters who will always be a key part of our department, but recruitment and retention are significant issues in the fire service, and as we get busier, we are burning them out,” added Tyner. “We must reduce their pressures, so they are there when needed. This is not about replacing volunteer firefighters; this is about meeting the expectations of our growing community and providing the same level of service at all hours. We are struggling to do this right now. The additional firefighters will also make it safer for all of us, both career and volunteer.”

This week, the Council will continue budget deliberations; this includes fire department staffing. The Greater Napanee Professional Firefighters urge the mayor and council to approve the hiring and expansion to full-time coverage 24 hours a day. They say it is modest investment, estimated to cost only pennies a day that will improve emergency response times and help the Greater Napanee Fire Department better serve its growing community. If the they do not, the firefighters say council will risk Greater Napanee’s public safety.


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