The Grande Prairie Firefighters Association (GPFA) is asking city council to reconsider its decision to cut a position from the Grande Prairie Fire Department (GPFD) as part of the city’s 2024 operational budget. 

Ian MacDonald, GPFA spokesperson, told city council on Monday (Dec. 11) that the fire department has seen an increase in its services over the last year. 

“It came as a great shock to all our members when we were informed that the department was chosen to have a staff reduction,” said MacDonald. 

He believes in the last year calls have increased by 15 per cent for the GPFD.

He said during the 2023 budget deliberations, the ask was for a budget increase to hire four firefighters, but council only allowed funding for two additional hires. 

“Every position matters, period,” said MacDonald.

He said other municipalities of similar size have half the call volume of the GPFD and are continuing to expand. 

The GPFA has taken to social media creating a poll on its Facebook page asking if residents agree with council’s decision to reduce fire department staff in 2024, resulting in 97 per cent of the 768 votes saying no. 

The GPFA also released an update on social media on the working conditions of local firefighters. 

According to the video released by GPFA, EMS calls are increasing in the North region, and currently, there are 38 vacant EMS positions in the North Zone. 

“We provided 22 hours of medical care without an ambulance,” says the video.

“That’s 22 hours a fire truck is unavailable to respond to a fire and 22 hours without next level of care being provided.”

Council accepted the delegation’s presentation for information and approved the 2024 budget without any amendments on Monday, Dec. 11. 

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Dec 14, 2023 at 09:15

This item reprinted with permission from   Town & Country News   Beaverlodge, Alberta

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