Ahead of city council’s decision on the Fire Master Plan, local firefighters are looking to see a second fire truck back in Oshawa’s downtown.
According to President of the Oshawa Professional Fire Fighters Association (OPFFA) Peter Dyson, a second truck is needed at Oshawa’s Station 1 after it was moved to Station 6 in 2017.
“They moved a fire truck from the downtown core up to Station 6 as our city is growing and expanding both out and up – we moved it from the busiest area of the city, and took it north,” says Dyson.
The movement of this one truck has had an effect on the entire city, not just the downtown core and Station 1, says Dyson.
“After that move was done, all the frontline firefighters in Oshawa knew there was an issue, but wanted to look at the science, look at the data,” he explains.
So they released a report in 2018 showing that removing the truck caused a longer average response time for trucks to come into the downtown core during an emergency.
Since then, the city has hired Dillon Consulting, which will be presenting the Fire Master Plan to city council today.
Dyson and his team came up with another report for Dillon, which had another years worth of data included.
The new report looked at the amount of time firefighters spent on scene working, says Dyson.
“We can’t just look at the number of times a fire truck goes somewhere, we have to look at how much time is spent,” he explains. “With our job as firefighters, minutes, seconds count. They can mean the difference between life and death, they can mean the difference between a business closing down or opening back up.”
Dyson is hoping city council will give the report a fair read, reach out to Dyson and the OPFFA if they have any questions, and “make the necessary investments in public safety.”
He explains when there’s a fire, there needs to be 17 firefighters on scene, and the first fire truck needs to get there fast.
According to Dyson there are simultaneous incidents in the downtown core quite often, so it was easier to get to a second incident in a timely manner when there were two trucks.
“But now what happens if there’s a call in Station 1’s area and the truck is tied up? So if another call comes in, now we need to take a truck from another neighbourhood in the city,” he says.
This means that neighbourhood now loses its truck as it is now downtown, leaving that neighbourhood without enough resources.
He adds trucks responding from these stations take an average of one minute and 28 seconds longer to get downtown during an emergency.
“If you’re responding from Station 1, you’re going to get to the scene quick. But if the truck has to come from outside that area, like it’s having to do more often now, it’s going to take them one minute and 28 seconds longer,” he says.
Ultimately, Dyson believes it’s time for council to make a decision, and to bring a second truck back to Station 1.
“The decision to remove a fire truck downtown was wrong. The data and the science show it,” says Dyson. “I think this discussion should be over. We need the decision makers to make a decision.”