After reviewing the expansive Fire Protective Services Operational Review carried out in the fall of 2015 by Dillon Consulting, and then tabling a decision twice on what recommendation the City should follow, Yorkton Council finally made a choice Monday.
The initial goal of the Dillon work was to provide Council with an independent analysis of the current operations of the Yorkton Fire Protective Services (YFPS), explained City Manager Lonnie Kaal Monday.
The most important aspect was to determine “the most effective and efficient level of fire protective services, resulting in the best value for the community,” she added.
The Dillon Report contains three strategic priorities that have been identified to guide Council in the decision making process of determining the desired level of fire protection services to be provided within the City of Yorkton. These include:
• The utilization of a Community Risk Assessment to determine the fire safety risks within the City of Yorkton as the basis for developing clear goals and objectives for all fire protection services to be provided by the Yorkton Fire Protective Services;
• The optimization of the first two lines of defence including public education and fire prevention, and the utilization of fire safety standards and fire code enforcement to provide a comprehensive fire protection program within the City based on the results of the Community Risk Assessment; and
An emphasis on strategies that support the sustainability of fire protection services and provide the most cost effective and efficient level of fire protection services resulting in the best value for the community.
However, Kaal reminded all recommendations were made with the understanding they would require negotiation between the City and members of the Yorkton Professional Firefighters Association Local 1527, of the International Association of Firefighters (Association).
“The Dillon Report accurately identifies that the City will be required to negotiate changes to the Collective Agreement in order implement any of the proposed fire protection operating models included within the Dillon Report. In the event changes cannot be negotiated Council must be aware that to proceed with any of the proposed options may result in legal action by the Association,” detailed the report circulated to Council by Administration Monday.
“…All of the options presented to Council require changes to the current Collective Agreement with Local 1527. Regardless of the option, the next step following Council’s decision to choose an option will be to begin the collective bargaining process with Local 1527.”
In the end one option from five presented in the Dillon Study and created in-house by the City, the Fire Chief and local Union president were up for final discussion Monday.
The Dillon option, “This option seeks to decrease the number of full-time firefighters on duty at all times and increase the utilization of temporary firefighters to strategically enhance the overall integration of the initial response and depth of response operational capabilities of the YFPS.
“This option presents a strategy to reduce the total number of full-time firefighters from the current complement of 16 full-time to eight full-time. Reducing the number of full-time firefighters would be accomplished through a process of attrition as the current full-time firefighters either retire, or alternatively leave the YFPS for personal other reasons.
“Within this option there would be a minimum of two full-time firefighters on duty at all times (Captain and one firefighter). There would be sufficient on duty full-time firefighters to staff either the engine (two firefighters) or Rescue (two firefighters) depending on the type of emergency incident response.
“This option would sustain the role of the temporary firefighters to provide coverage of the fulltime firefighters in the event of an absence due to vacation, sick leave, disability leave, training leave or other approved absence. The total complement of temporary firefighters would increase from the current complement of four to 32 temporary firefighters and integrate temporary firefighters into the initial response and depth of response emergency response deployment of the YFPS.
“The proposed complement of 32 temporary firefighters would be assigned in groups of eight temporary firefighters to each of the four current platoons. One group of eight temporary firefighters would be scheduled to be on-call at all times and be alerted through the enhanced alerting process proposed.
“This option would integrate the current complement of auxiliary firefighters (subject to them achieving the required training competencies) into the proposed complement of temporary firefighters, and cease to use the designation of auxiliary firefighters.”
The ‘homegrown option; “sustains the current complement of 16 full-time firefighters and the minimum number of full-time firefighters on duty of 4 full-time firefighters at all times.
“This option would increase the number of Temporary firefighters from the current 4 to 24 and increase their roles and responsibilities to include participating in a schedule on-call process in addition to expanding their use in providing coverage of the full-time firefighters in the event of an absence due to vacation, sick leave, disability leave, training leave or other approved absence.
“The proposed complement of 24 temporary firefighters would be assigned in groups of six temporary firefighters to each of the four current platoons. A group of five temporary firefighters would be scheduled to be on-call at all times and be alerted through an enhanced alerting process. This option would no longer require auxiliary firefighters …
“The proposed Option 6 presents the opportunity for several new efficiencies within the department particularly in the areas of training, on duty staffing, and emergency response.”
It is anticipated that Option 4 will be much more challenging to negotiate as it proposes a decrease in the membership (number of full-time firefighters) of Local 1527; whereas Option 6 was developed in consultation with Local 1527 and sustains the same number of full-time firefighters, noted Kaal.
In terms of recommendations there was however some core concepts which could be implemented without contract negotiation implications.
For example, a focus on public education and prevention, offered Kaal.
“Educating residents of the community on means for them to fulfill their responsibilities for their own fire safety is a proven method of reducing the incidence of fire. Only by educating residents can fires be prevented and can those affected by fires respond properly to save lives, reduce injury and reduce the impact of fires,” detailed the circulated report.
Similarly there are efforts which can be made in terms of fire safety standards and code enforcement.
“Ensuring that buildings have the required fire protection systems, safety features, including fire safety plans, and that these systems are maintained, so that the severity of fires may be minimized,” noted the report.