Sault Ste. Marie fire fighters today applauded a Ministry of Labour order requiring the City of Sault Ste. Marie to redraft Operating Guidelines that impact fire fighter safety and could impact public safety.
The Sault Ste. Marie Professional Fire Fighters Association has been pushing the city to reverse planned cuts to fire service staff, arguing that the public and fire fighters will be at greater risk with fewer fire fighters available to answer emergency calls.
“The City has consistently focused on the cost of fire fighting, forgetting entirely about its value,” said Marty Kenopic, Sault Ste. Marie Professional Fire Fighters Association President. “Just last week, we heard the city blaming the cost of WSIB claims coming from fire fighters who sacrificed their health to help protect the people of Sault Ste. Marie. Yesterday’s Ministry of Labour order will, I hope, encourage the city to ensure that we have properly-staffed fire trucks at all times.”
The Ministry of Labour order comes after the Sault Ste. Marie Professional Fire Fighters Association appealed the city’s decision not to amend fire fighter operational and safety guidelines to reflect the lower staffing of each truck. The Ministry of Labour order requires the city to prepare new guidelines to reflect the consequences of the Sault Ste. Marie Fire Department’s reduced staffing when responding to a call.
“New guidelines are only part of the solution,” added Kenopic. “They will tell our fire fighters what to do with one less fire fighter per truck, but I still don’t think it will solve the problem of the planned reduction in staff.”
The City has until January 27th to comply with the Ministry of Labour order.