Mayor and council have done a great job of getting the City on track financially and have showed support for the AFRS with the hiring of 6 firefighters last year to bring us up to an appropriate staffing ratio to adequately operate our existing 4 engines. With the new Official Community Plan and the planning for Abbotsford’s growth to 200,000 residents, we feel it’s time for Fire Service staffing levels to get caught up to meet the City’s current operational needs.
The AFRS responds to more than fires, we also respond to medical calls as first responders in addition to BCAS and can provide care and interventions prior to the arrival of paramedics. In addition to basic CPR, we are also trained in the use of AED’s for cardiac arrests and the delivery of Naloxone to combat overdoses. We attend motor vehicle incidents, fire alarms, public service calls, Hazmat incidents, technical rescue incidents, and more.
The 2011 AFRS Master Plan included the hiring of 5 fire fighters per year starting in 2012 resulting in a fully staffed engine operating out of Hall 7 by 2015. This plan was presented and adopted but the hirings did not happen. The latest version of the Master Plan now doesn’t plan on hiring for Hall 7 until 2023 or later despite the need for that area that was identified nine years ago.
Fire can double in size in as little as 30 seconds meaning the smoke level could be down to the floor in less than 3 minutes. Chances of surviving cardiac arrest decrease 7-10% every minute after the heart stops beating. Timely interventions are also critical for outcomes in strokes, overdoses, breathing emergencies, traumas, etc.
The difference between help arriving on scene in 4-5 minutes or 8-9 minutes can be critical for both fires and medical emergencies.
The AFRS only met their response time goal of 7 minutes for the years 2015 & 2016 an average of 70.5% of the time in the entire urban area. Since 2016 the call volumes have increased over 20% so logic dictates that 70.5% would be less now due to trucks being busy and other trucks from other zones having to response instead.
The Darkhorse study found that the top 3 reasons for response time delays were driving (traffic, construction, routes), distance from a full time staffed station, and trucks being busy resulting in an engine from further away being assigned to the call.
The AFRS has the largest response area in the province and the 5th largest population but doesn’t rank in the top 25 in fire department funding. (per capita)