City adopts Fire Master Plan and Risk Assessment Plan


City council spent most of tonight talking about the fire comprehensive risk assessment and the fire master plan.

It’s a comprehensive evaluation of a fire department’s current operations, staffing and service delivery, an assessment of current services in relation to legislated standards and municipal best practices and the creation of a strategic, multi-year plan to deliver services based on the ‘needs and circumstances’ of the community.

The risks that were found:

  • 57.4 per cent of homes were built prior to 1975 (pre-current building and fire codes)
  • 25 buildings were registered as vulnerable occupancies within the city
  • almost half the fires in the last few years did not have a smoke alarm
  • seniors, those 65+ represent one of the highest fire risk groups (22 per cent compared to 17 per cent in the province)
  • 30 per cent of current population is between 45 and 64 aging towards the seniors demographic
  • 24 current buildings registered as vulnerable within the city would be deemed as high-rise in excess of 18 metres, most located within the downtown core area, several identified as residential occupancies

Through the questions from city councilors a few points that were notable were:

  • the water based fire rescue vehicle will not be reinstated
  • residential multiple false alarms will result in a charge
  • the deployment of firefighters on a scene are minimum of 4
  • to provide a full scale search and rescue residentially requires 14 firefighters, 15 if an aerial is needed

These studies were done by an independent third party and accounted to several hundred pages of the city council agenda.

The recommendations:

  • The Fire Master Plan be approved as the strategic framework for the delivery of fire protection services within the City of Sault Ste. Marie for the next 10-year planning horizon; and
  • Council direct the Fire Chief to implement a minimum on duty staffing of fifteen (15) firefighters at all times as the interim Fire Station and firefighter deployment model; and
  • Council approve Option 3 contained within the Fire Master Plan as the preferred Fire Station location and firefighter deployment model and direct the Fire Chief to develop an implementation plan for Option 3 for Council’s consideration and approval; and
  • Council direct the Fire Chief to report further on the implementation of recommendations presented in the Fire Master Plan in accordance with the financial resources available through the annual budget process of the City of Sault Ste. Marie.

All recommendations were passed unanimously.


  1. I watched with interest, the presentation given to City Council, on the Sault Fire Services Risk Assessment and I learned a great deal. I also spent the last couple days looking over the Fire Master Plan that was attached to the agenda. It is a very intense compilation of information and facts.
    It is very sad to see that it took almost 3 years for this council to be pressured into obtaining this very thorough report; one that was requested by the firefighters from day one. It would have saved a lot of aggravation for both sides.
    With their “so called expert”, now before the courts council was given “the truth” from a very unbiased consultant.
    Dillon Group produced a master report and the presenter(Steve Thurlow) was un-waivered by the questions asked by some of the councilors.
    What was apparent was that City Council still doesn’t seem to understand the fire service, even after this whole fiasco being in the public eye for 3 years. Simple things like what a false alarm is or how the firefighters find hydrants in the winter! Come on people! What have you been doing for the past 3 years? You were badly “mislead” once, yet you still have not gathered yourselves an education on the fire service.
    With a staffing of 15 firefighters on duty, and a recommended 4 firefighters per truck by the NFPA guide (as Steve Thurlow of Dillon Consulting said), I have been struggling with the math.
    Right now we have 4 Fire Stations, but as councilor Paul Christian was wondering: how does that add up to 4 per truck? Is this new math?
    There are many other questions up in the air here, and although this appears to be a good step, our city council needs to read the reports, and ask some very tough questions to ensure that us citizens are receiving a safe, efficient and proper response service.

  2. It is too bad the mayor wouldn’t let the past Fire Marshall present the exact same information….
    It would have saved the city $100,000.00!

  3. It is good to see Council is heading in the right direction after being presented with the Comprehensive Risk Assessment. Now they need to have the Fire Underwriters Survey (which they also commissioned) presented in open Council to see how these planned changes will effect our insurance rates!

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