Halifax approves budget to add firefighters in Middle Musquodoboit
Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency is adding 15 firefighters to its ranks to increase staffing in Middle Musquodoboit and fill a gap by serving surrounding areas.
Coun. Cathy Deagle Gammon, who represents Waverley-Fall River-Musquodoboit Valley, moved to add $137,100 to this year's budget to allow the station to run 24/7 with a mix of career and volunteer firefighters.
Fire Chief Ken Stuebing presented his annual proposed budget and business plan to council on Wednesday, up 8.1 per cent over last year to $84.6 million, and he painted a picture of a fatigued service.
"We are much more than people who fight fires. We deal with HAZMAT incidents, we deal with car accidents, we deal with ... storm emergencies, critical infrastructure failure, medical calls."
He pointed to issues with recruitment and an aging workforce in Middle Musquodoboit and a growing urban population.
"When I compare our fire service to my peers in large metropolitan departments, we do not have the response capabilities that they have, we do not have the staff to address high-rise fires."
Mayor Mike Savage agreed that the Halifax Regional Municipality is growing, noting a 15 per cent population increase since 2016. He said in that time, however, the number of firefighters has grown by 24 per cent and the fire budget has grown by 44 per cent.
"I just don't want people to say that we're not keeping up with growth," Savage said, "because we sure as heck are."
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