Halifax council extinguishes fire station staffing changes

Halifax municipal council has killed a plan to change the staffing at three urban fire stations by a vote of 11-5.

Council defeats fire chief's recommendation in a vote of 11 to 5

A number of supporters of Halifax Fire and Emergency were at Halifax City Hall on Tuesday. (Jean LaRoche/CBC)

Halifax municipal council has killed a plan to change the staffing at three urban fire stations by a vote of 11-5.

The recommendation was put forward by the chief of the fire service, who assured politicians there was no risk to having volunteer firefighters cover overnight shifts. The plan affected the fire halls on Lady Hammond Road in Halifax, Patton Road in Sackville and King Street in Dartmouth. 

After today's vote, Fire Chief Doug Trussler was sent back to the drawing board and explore the logistics for hiring 52 new full-time firefighters.

Trussler says he not upset or disappointed by council's rejection of the earlier plan.

"My job is to present council with the facts, they're politicians, they have to do what they think is best for the municipality and their constituents," he said.

More taxes, more protection

President of the Halifax Firefighter's Union, Jim Gates, says he is happy with council's recommendation to explore adding more firefighters.

"A legitimate investment hasn't been made in the fire service for over 16, almost 20 years," he said. "We wanted to have council reconsider this and staff towards the levels that are required."

The preliminary estimate is that plan could cost the city at least $5 million more per year by the time they are all hired.

Dartmouth councillor Gloria McCluskey believes residents will gladly pay a bit more in taxes for extra protection.

"It's safety we're talking about. Not a $63 million library or a $3 million building for the Oval, safety," she said.

McCluskey led the fight against volunteer firefighters covering overnight and weekend shifts at the downtown Dartmouth station.

But the new plan calls for those same firefighters to be called in if the professionals need help.

The CBC's Jean LaRoche live blogged today's council meeting.

With files from Jean LaRoche


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