This week, Halifax Regional Council will be considering whether to add 52 more career firefighters at stations across the municipality.
The vote will come just two weeks after councillors voted down a plan to staff three urban fire stations with volunteers on overnight shifts. That plan affected the fire halls on Lady Hammond Road in Halifax, Patton Road in Sackville and King Street in Dartmouth.
Councillors will now be considering a proposal to add five more full-time positions each to stations in Bedford, Eastern Passage, Cole Harbour and Lakeside to ensure those fire halls are staffed with four-person crews around the clock.
The report also proposes adding enough career firefighter positions to staff aerials 24 hours a day at the University Avenue and Highfield Park stations — which would add 12 and 20 jobs respectively.
"A legitimate investment hasn't been made in the fire service for over 16, almost 20 years," Jim Gates, president of the firefighter's union told CBC News on Jan. 12
"We wanted to have council reconsider this and staff towards the levels that are required."
Hiring and training for the new positions would cost $1.7 million between 2017–2018 and rise in the following years as firefighters reached higher certification levels. The report projects the extra positions would cost $5.49 million over seven years.
Laying out financial implications
The staff report also says it would take the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency three years to train enough recruits to fill the positions.
Unlike volunteers, career firefighters receive a salary starting at $53,077 with benefits, with a maximum of $102,779. The city's cost projections also take into account the added equipment extra people would require.
A vote on the decision was postponed until city staff could lay out the financial implications.
The proposal also considers whether to recruit 40 volunteer positions for the Lady Hammond Road and King Street stations in order to allow them to become permanent composite stations.