Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My tour and thoughts about Langley City’s Fire-Rescue Service

One of the things that I’ve been working towards since being elected to Langley City Council is getting a clearer understanding of the various departments within the City. I want to see what’s working well, and where there are constraints. This weekend I toured the fire hall, and went out on a call with one of the crews.

Outside Langley City Fire-Rescue.

Because Langley City is only 10 square kilometers, we only require one fire hall. It should come as no surprise, but everyone that I talked to was extremely professional and proud of the services they provide to the community.

Inside the Fire Hall.

One of the things that I’ve been noticing is, with the exception of the police department, the City of Langley staffing levels are lean. The Fire-Rescue service is no exception.

Right now, the City of Langley has enough full-time firefighters to staff one fire engine 24/7. What this means is that they can respond to only one call at a time. If there is more than one call, or if a call requires more than one engine, paid on-call firefighters or the Township of Langley must be called to assist.

Out on a call.

As I posted about in April, we have one of the busiest engines in Metro Vancouver. Only engines in Vancouver’s DTES respond to more calls. The call volume in the City of Langley has been steadily climbing over the last few years.

Because many of the paid-on call firefighters have regular full-time jobs, and the Township of Langley Fire Department’s mandate is to serve that community. While response times are excellent for the City’s full-time engine, response times are slower when more than one engine is needed. Seconds matter in an emergency.

The Fire-Rescue service responses to fire-related calls, as well as motor vehicle accidents and medical emergencies. The fire department is also responsible for fire prevention which includes building inspections. Because Langley City has a large amount of old buildings, some of which have undocumented and unsafe modifications, these building inspections are key to maintaining fire safety.

Some of the full-time firefighters that I met during my tour, plus me.

I believe that we need to have a discussion within the community about the staffing levels at Fire-Rescue. While we are not in a crises at the moment, a conversation about allocating additional resources for the Fire-Rescue service over the next five years should occur.

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