Miramichi firefighters use Twitter to highlight staffing woes

The union representing Miramichi’s firefighters is taking to Twitter to raise concerns about staffing problems at the city’s two fire halls.

CUPE Local 4558 says 2 firefighters must be staffing each of city's 2 fire halls for safety reasons

The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4558, which represents Miramichi professional firefighters, is taking to social media to highlight staffing shortages. (Miramichi Fire Department/Twitter)

The union representing Miramichi’s professional firefighters is taking to Twitter to raise concerns about staffing problems at the city’s two fire halls.

The northern city’s two fire halls are supposed to always have two firefighters on the job.

But Frank Roach, the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4558, said there are many times when only a single firefighter is at one of the fire halls.

“Sometimes it's a couple of times a week and sometimes it's less often than that,” he said.

Roach said Station No. 2 in the old Chatham area of the city was down to one firefighter on Wednesday.

So the firefighters let the public know on social media that it was short-staffed.

The social media posting did not stop an accident from happening.

Roach said he had to respond to a major car crash in the area by himself.

“Well, it's quite stressful and you're just hoping that you've got guys coming behind you as quick as possible,” he said.

Roach said he had to wait for volunteers to answer their pager calls in order to get some assistance.

In the case of a fire, he said a firefighter who shows up all alone can't do very much to help put out a blaze.

“He has to respond to it and size it up a report of what he has and do what he can do by himself, which unfortunately isn't a lot most of the time,” he said.

“It puts someone in a bad situation, unfortunately that we get there and as firefighters, we want to make a fire attack but it's hard to do by yourself because you have to run the pump, operate the truck, communicate on the radio, advance hose lines. There are a lot of things there, so this is why we're saying four guys on shift, so we can do this job effectively and safely.”

Miramichi Coun. Joan Cripps said the city is aware of the problem of under-staffed fire halls and is working on solution to the firefighters’ concerns.

“We're taking it very seriously,” Cripps said.

“We've had a number of discussions and meetings on it and we're going to be resolving that in, I would think, a very short time.”

The firefighters' union will continue to tweet whenever one of the two fire stations is down to just one person.