CUPE Local 76, which represents municipal workers and firefighters, are speaking out against the lack of firefighters at the Campbellton Fire Department. Over the last few years, the City has refused to post three internal vacant positions, which leads the Union to believe that the City is conducting an internal attrition campaign.
“We only have five permanent firefighters left, whereas before, there were eight. We now only have one permanent full-time firefighter per shift. It’s a serious and dangerous situation,” declares Chris Day, President of CUPE Local 76.
“Our response time is far from satisfactory. We are too late on the scene and we often do not meet the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) regulations, which recommends a minimum of 4 firefighters per truck when responding to a fire,” deplores Day.
The municipality receives nearly 200 fire calls per year. Despite its 22 volunteer firefighters, there have been several cases of recent fires that have posed a greater risk than expected because of the lack of firefighters:
• 4 Andrew St-Old Brass Rail Night Club: The call arrived at 01h45, with the club full of people, while we had only one firefighter and two volunteers. No rescue vehicles.
• Dumont Terrace: Women inside an apartment and one firefighter present. No one else answered for several minutes. No rescue vehicles.
• King Street: Young girl trapped in the basement. One firefighter present. A rescue vehicle finally arrived several minutes later.
• Dumont Terrace: A man trapped inside an apartment. One firefighter present. A rescue vehicle finally arrived several minutes later.
While municipal taxes have increased, essential services are being reduced. With aging buildings, over time, the risk of fire continues to increase.
« The City must fill the three vacant positions at the Fire Station. Public safety is at play, » says Day.