—Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News West Kelowna Fire Rescue, seen here set up to extinguish six small, deliberately set fires on Mt. Boucherie earlier this year, is asking council to approve the hiring of eight more firefighters.

Firefighters request for extra staff and a re-brand in West Kelowna budget

West Kelowna Fire Rescue is asking for an additional eight firefighters to be hired

West Kelowna Fire Rescue is looking for more firefighters and a return to its historic crest.

The department wants city council to approve the hiring of eight more firefighters to meet what it says is a critical need and to replace the current crest it uses.

The crest, used for the last 10 years, is a multi-coloured design that is expensive to reproduce on vehicles and uniforms according to the fire department in its 2019 supplemental budget request report.

“With the 70th anniversary of the WKFR approaching in 2019, the department is looking to revert to using the previous historical crest going forward. The crest is simple in design and cost effective to reproduce in all formats,” reads the report to council from the WKFR.

Reverting to the historical crest will reduce ongoing reproduction costs because the design is simpler in design. The WKFR is requesting $15,000 to re-brand the fire department in time for their anniversary.

The funding would allow the WKFR to start the process of replacing existing crests on uniforms, vehicles and signage, and new vehicles uniforms and signs that will be ordered.

The report says the city’s human resources manager and fire chief have both determined there is a “critical resource shortage” of firefighters due to the combination of high-hazard physical work and fatigue stress.

READ ALSO: West Kelowna steps up efforts for urgent care centre

The report says firefighters in the WKFR regularly work overtime and extended tours of duty beyond 14 hours and up to 38 hours.

Worksafe BC says of two or three firefighters are on shift, they must wait for at least one more to join them on scene before they can enter a burning building. The main Westbank station currently meets the requirement, but the smaller Lakeview Heights station does not, says the report.

The city’s human resources department has noted a marked increase in sick leave for illness and injury among firefighters, as well as WCB claims for accidents on the job.

RELATED: West Kelowna theatre named one of Chatelaine’s Top 10 in Canada

“Recent evaluation with the WKFR Priority Plan and the IAFF collective agreement has found that the most effective and efficient option is to add eight additional firefighters. This option will increase coverage to the community and result in a reduction of overtime costs that could be used to offset increased staffing costs,” reads the 2019 business case for the additions.

The WKFR’s workload has been increasing, according to the report. It’s firefighters respond to approximately 3,300 calls for service and conduct an additional 2,200 fire inspections and public education events annually.

The fire department request is included in the budget submission that also recommends a three per cent increase in city property taxes. That decision has not yet been voted on by council and is still a draft.

The first review of the 2019 budget was discussed by council at a Dec. 11 meeting.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@sydneyrmorton
sydney.morton@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bernard Avenue will be closed to vehicles this summer

Kelowna’s main drag will be a pedestrian-only roadway from June 29 through the Labour Day long weekend

Kelowna’s Homebase Baseball Tournament cancelled

A live auction will still take place to raise funds for Joeanna’s House

Kelowna General Hospital Foundation launches fundraising initiative to support local health care

The initiative also highlights workers at Kelowna General Hospital

Kelowna man charged with animal cruelty

The 20-year-old Kelowna resident remains in custody

Proposed wine centre in historic downtown Kelowna building moved to public hearing

The public will get an opportunity to give input on the proposed 625-person capacity wine centre

Video: Okanagan mayors encourage water conservation this summer

Water conservation this summer could be more important than ever, experts say

Enderby’s drive-in not safe from top doc’s 50-car limit

Starlight Drive-In opened with reduced capacity, COVID-19 safety measures in place

Parking lot patios a go in Vernon

Council votes in favour of allowing businesses to expand commercial space into on-street parking spots

Shuswap cabin owner disputes request to stay home in Alberta

Alberta resident redrafts response to CSRD request to stay home

Petition seeks to clean up Okanagan forests ‘carpeted’ with shotgun shells

Penticton man says making shot-gun shells refundable would create cleaner forests

Vernon gym knocked out by COVID-19

9Round Fitness in Vernon Square Mall owners announce permanent closure of facility

Snapshot: Distanced dancing in Salmon Arm

Friends use picnic shelter at Blackburn Park for safe practice

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Most Read