Thunder Bay

Dryden could pay thousands more for firefighting

City councillors in Dryden, Ont., received a costing estimate this week on how much it will cost to operate the city's fire service.

Increase could be over $346,000

The City of Dryden presented four options to council to determine how it should proceed to provide fire protection in the city. (

City councillors in Dryden, Ont., received a costing estimate this week on how much it will cost to operate the city's fire service.

Volunteer firefighters walked off the job in February, citing safety and trust concerns with Fire Chief Ryan Murrell. 

Since that time, Dryden has hired contract firefighters — recent college graduates — to provide service to the city. Volunteers at Hall Two have continued their positions with the city.

Four options were presented to Dryden council on Monday night. 

  1. Maintain the volunteer model in place, with a cost of $808,507 per year. It utilizes a high number of volunteers, and has a nine minute average response time
  2. Volunteers/work experience program, where the city could hire new graduates from a college program, paying them a living allowance, while still having volunteers. The annual cost is $863,749 per year. This would result in an 8 minute response time.
  3. Paid on-call volunteers would see a high number of volunteers, with an overall cost of $946,899 per year. This model needs employers to be able to allow employees to attend calls during normal working hours.
  4. Full-time firefighters, along with volunteers will cost $1,155,082 per year. This model would have three full-time firefighters working, to provide guaranteed daytime coverage. The response time would be seven minutes.

A rating system, developed by Dryden city administration, shows the work experience model is ranked the highest, followed by a full-time and volunteer combination.

A report to council shows the fire service is within its yearly budget, however, the wage component of the budget was substantially increased.

The report notes the amount dedicated to the fire service in most Ontario municipalities is about 7 per cent of the total operating budget. In Dryden, 2.89 per cent of the budget is dedicated to the fire service.


Jeff Walters


Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.


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