Dalhousie Mayor Clem Tremblay said a new contract signed with municipal employees reflects the new financial reality of his northern town. (CBC)

Dalhousie is phasing out its full-time firefighters and over the next 18 months the northern town will transition to an on-call department.

The town announced a new five-year contract with the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 188 on Thursday.

A component of that agreement is the gradual elimination of full-time firefighters.

Dalhousie will use the next 18 months to move from a fire department that has a mix of full-time and on-call firefighters to an organization with strictly on-call firefighters.

There were a number of other changes in the new collective agreement.

Dalhousie Mayor Clem Tremblay said in a statement the deal with CUPE reflects the town’s “new reality.”

“With the agreed-to changes, the town will avoid approximately $300,000 in expenses over the next four years,” Tremblay’s statement said.

The northern town has been hard hit since 2008 by closures of major employers, such as a mill, the NB Power generator and chemical plants.

The wage and benefit increases, which amount to nine per cent over five years, are below the provincial average.

There was also an agreement to have a lower wage rate for new workers, increased flexibility for the town to work with volunteer organizations to host events and it gives the town more ability to adopt technological changes.

Another component of the deal includes “stronger consequences for employees with DUI convictions.”

The town’s release also states that administrators will continue to find cost-saving measures.