Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency has proposed a budget for 2021-22 that includes a $5.5-million increase over last June's revamped budget, for a total of $76.6 million.
The budget includes 15 new employees: an emergency measures co-ordinator, two fire inspectors and 12 new firefighters.
"They'll be starting their training in August and be in operation by the end of the calendar year," said fire Chief Ken Stuebing. "Two of them will be deployed to the Black Point station."
Stuebing said the new firefighters will not only reduce overtime costs, but help the department improve its response times.
Not consistently meeting standard
During a budget presentation Wednesday, Stuebing told regional council the service gets 14 firefighters on the scene of a house fire within an 11-minute standard "only about half the time."
The local president of Halifax Professional Firefighters also made a presentation to council, asking it to keep in mind the standard of four firefighters per truck.
"We need firefighters on trucks," said Brendan Marr. "It's a message we need to reinforce."
Councillors unanimously endorsed the budget proposal.
"I absolutely, 100 per cent support your budget and the direction you are taking the fire service in," said Coun. Pamela Lovelace.
Increases will become challenging, says mayor
Only Mayor Mike Savage sounded a note of caution, after looking at the budgets over the past five years.
"Our overall budget in that period of time has gone up 13.7 per cent and the fire budget has gone up 31 per cent," said Savage. "It's going to be, increasingly, a challenge."
Final budget approvals are scheduled for April.
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