Firefighters' union worried about battling highrise blazes

Toronto firefighters are warning they need more resources to deal with highrise fires, one day after a fatal fire at a Parkdale apartment building.
The firefighters' union says more resources are needed to battle fires in Toronto's apartment and condo towers 2:21

Toronto firefighters are warning they need more resources to deal with highrise fires, one day after a fatal fire at a Parkdale apartment building.

On Wednesday night, a 59-year-old man died and three other people were taken to hospital after a two-alarm fire on the 11th floor of the building at 245 Dunn Ave., near Queen Street West.  

Today, Frank Ramagnano of the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters' Association, warned there needs to be more firefighters to keep Torontonians safe as more and more opt to live in apartment and condo towers.

We will have a discussion once again about whether fire services in Toronto are adequate. I’m not convinced they are.- Coun. Janet Davis

"Highrises are some of the most complex fires a firefighter will face," Ramagnano said, adding the more firefighters the better when it comes to getting people out of a building.

"You can mitigate the problem quicker," he said.

The city has recently cut back on its fire services, closing the Runnymede fire station and taking several trucks out of service as well. The move, designed to cut costs, angered firefighters.

"It stretches our resources," Ramagnano said.

"We can't be making decisions based on budget."

Coun. Janet Davis agreed, saying she was alarmed at the some 100 job vacancies at the fire department and the service's ability to respond to highrise fires.

"We will have a discussion once again about whether fire services in Toronto are adequate. I'm not convinced they are," Davis said.

But Toronto's Fire Chief Jim Sales warned adding more firefighters alone won't solve the problem. He said building tenants need more fire prevention education, and more building inspections are also needed.

Toronto Fire, meanwhile, has also started tracking wait-time data specifically for calls involving highrises. 

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