Fire Services Organizational Realignment


In light of recent media coverage concerning the provision of Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in Sault Ste. Marie and in advance of a scheduled update to City Council in October, I wish to advise of the following:

City administration remains committed to the Fire Services Organizational Realignment plan and engaging in meaningful dialogue with the Sault Ste. Marie Professional Fire Fighters Association (SSMPFFA) concerning its implementation.

On October 26, 2015, City Council approved the Fire Services Organizational Realignment. The plan addressed critical resource deficiencies in EMS that had developed primarily due to a doubling of calls (to 12,000 annually) from 2004 to 2014 as well as resource needs in other areas of Fire Services dedicated to fire prevention. The plan accomplished this by reallocating resources from the fire suppression area, which is well resourced and has experienced an 80% reduction in actual fires from 1984 to 2014, now numbering approximately 100 fires annually.

The realignment plan does not change the level of first response to a fire event, which remains the same as pre October 26, 2015. However, it does significantly improve our level of first response to EMS events thus enhancing community safety.

The shifting of resources from the suppression area further allows us to allocate more resources to fire prevention and education, training, education and professional development and emergency management. This reallocation of resources is part of a trend to more modern fire services practices most recently confirmed through a coroner’s inquest held concerning 3 fatalities in a house fire in Whitby, Ontario.

Among the recommendations from the Coroner’s Inquest to the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs was for, “Fire Departments to explore reallocating their current resources and/or utilizing resources from the suppression area for fire prevention, public education and fire safety inspections in their municipalities.”

It is our view that meaningful dialogue is best accomplished through the forum of face to face meetings. City administration looks forward to the SSMPFFA returning to this forum for a professional and respectful discussion.

Al Horsman
Chief Administrative Officer


  1. Wait a minute……EMS calls have doubled…..Fires are down by 80%……so give more resourses to the Fire Department?? How does this make sense? Fire trucks dont take people to hospitals…Ambulances do! Am I the only one who thinks this is backwards?

  2. It’s never too late to turn this thing around!! This new Chief needs to undertake a thorough analysis of the city’s fire related risks, including demographics, building stock, environmental threats, water related response, CBRNE, and all other specialized rescue needs. In the absence of a comprehensive needs analysis, the City is gambling that risk management will works in their favour. Those odds are highly stacked against them, and I fear that that this new strategy will wreak havoc among the entire community, particularly the city’s firefighters who will be burdened with even greater challenges than they currently face.

  3. The 3 deaths in Whitby should never have happened. It took almost 5 minuets for the fire truck to leave a station and drive a few hundred feet. These kids were on the phone for over 10 min. waiting for fires help, now think of the time wasted at the scene. As for the town of Whitby, every time there is a fire they push for more fire fighters, getting 2 new stations. They also say they beet the EMS 100% of the time; also not true. We would save millions if the fire service was regional, each area has to have there own empire. Also with the new station they are planning the average response time will be less than 3 min for half of the town, fastest times in Canada. This is out of control.

  4. All you have to do is watch a Monday council meeting to get an understanding of which ones are masters of double-speak, or non speak , if you prefer. Some members can expound for long periods of time and in the end have said nothing at all. They know who they are, old and new..And it looks like our new CAO is no better.. Funny, Joe did that job quite a few years and never needed a deputy CAO….

  5. I would suggest council review the annual fire reports to check the chief’s numbers – there an old saying “liars figure and Figgy lies”!
    It appears he hasn’t been truthful on a number of statements lately…

  6. So is Mr Horsman trying to tell us that Whitby is reallocating their personnel in the same way as they are here?

    Please enlighten us as to how Whitby Council is interpreting this inquest. I did a little reading and they do have quite a well staffed fire service and their Fire Chief requested that they boost that service more to ensure their citizens are properly protected in all aspects of Suppression, Education and Prevention.
    I wish this Council we have managing our services would tell the whole story and not just the few facts they find pleasing and can interpret and manipulate is whatever manner they believe sounds reasonable. You are not fooling us. Just tell the truth please and stop insulting the intelligence of your citizens.

  7. How can you cut 25% of your work force, eliminate two fire trucks, and continue to say that the level of service hasn’t changed! All of this rhetoric could be avoided if the City just had a Comprehensive risk assessment or Fire Underwriters Survey performed and made the findings public. I guess they feel that if they continue to say nothing has changed, maybe even they will begin to believe it.

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