Review of Fire Department Efficiencies

In 2015, all seven municipalities in Northumberland consolidated their dispatching and contracted with Peterborough Fire Services to provide dispatching of all calls for Fire Department services.  This raised the subject of whether there are other efficiencies to be found although the obvious idea of a single department is unlikely since several Towns are primarily Volunteer operated.  But the Province has now provided $95K in funding to look into “service delivery efficiencies” and the County and Municipalities will now be doing this review.  A steering committee led by Hamilton Township has issued an RFP for a consultant to see what can be done.  All municipalities are represented, including Mike Vilneff, Cobourg’s Fire Chief.  The intent is to create efficiencies and reduce costs so the review will include a line-by-line municipal budget review, a service delivery review, modernization/technology opportunities, and a review of administrative processes.

Cobourg Fire Dept
Cobourg Fire Dept

RFP Scope of Work

  • Undertake an analysis of all current fire services and programs provided by the seven municipal fire services and examine the core functions of each fire department, including administration, fire prevention, public education, training, fire suppression, apparatus and facilities, and emergency management. The analysis is to include:
    • How are services (administration, suppression, training, prevention, accountability, IMS/lCS, public education etc.) currently provided and are there more efficient options to delivery?
    • How is succession planning being looked at by the municipalities?
    • Station location from a non-border coverage perspective;
    • Communications system and hardware;
    • IT equipment and programs commonality;
    • Recruitment, retention and compensation structure;
    • Can Purchasing be undertaken more efficiently;
    • Provision of Emergency Management and
    • Work collaboratively with all municipalities.
  • Ensure all recommendations identify opportunities to ensure the future and viability of the fire service;
  • Ensure a range of opportunities to consult with, and engage, all local fire personnel in this review process;
  • Ensure transparent and consistent communications and messaging to elected officials, paid and volunteer firefighters, and municipal staff and
  • Examine compliance with current legislative requirements, and benchmark current services and programs against current industry standards and guidelines.
  • Provide a summary of the current fire services/programs provided within the County of Northumberland, including the identification of opportunities where the delivery of fire services may be further enhanced to improve efficiencies or effectiveness at either the local level, partnering with other fire services or agencies.
  • Based on solid, quantitative information, the review will ensure future direction and recommendations are based on objective evidence and recognized best practice. In part, the plan will address multi-year capital requirements related to apparatus, station assessment and location as well as tactical objectives for training, suppression, public education, fire prevention, department organization and human resource planning. The review should also consider the Emergency Management function.
  • An Action Plan with clear timelines to facilitate multi-year planning, implementation and budgeting will help all users of the report to understand and make decisions and commitments that can be agreed upon, based on the outcomes of the report.

It’s planned to have the final report of the Consultant on-line by June 30 2020.

Cobourg Council were informed of the project at their meeting on 24 February.

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Leweez
20 March 2020 6:52 pm

Anyone happen to see the town of Cobourg 2019 sunshine list posted on Today’s Northumberland?
You should compare it to the Town of Port Hope’s also listed on Today’s Northumberland.
Any town councillors care to explain the difference?
Councillor Darling?

Frenchy
Reply to  Leweez
20 March 2020 9:14 pm

delete

Johanne
13 March 2020 8:24 pm

Here are the salaries we pay. Police, firemen, nurses etc.. Nobody else in town makes so much.

http://todaysnorthumberland.ca/2019/04/01/northumberland-county-public-sector-salary-disclosure/y.

Gerald Childs
Reply to  Johanne
13 March 2020 8:29 pm

That is a link to “Year-end Surplus is Stellar News for NHH.”

Kyle
9 March 2020 4:49 pm

The problem is the escalation of the costs. Fire & Ambulance have mimicked the rank structure that police have and even wear similar para military uniforms. Why? To compare the jobs to each other and win lucrative contracts. Now, when any one of them gets a wage increase they use that settlement to argue for more money for all. The rank structures and percentage difference between them only exacerbates the cost. The only way to begin to get some control is to outsource some of the empires. Emergency planning under fire would be a good start.

Leweez
Reply to  Kyle
9 March 2020 4:58 pm

Looking at the 2019 sunshine list, the only non management employees who made the list from the town of Cobourg are firefighters and police officers. Every firefighter made the list.
From the town of Port Hope, zero employees

cornbread
Reply to  Kyle
9 March 2020 6:00 pm

Kyle, I think you hit it on the head! Perhaps another look at the OPP in Northumberland County would be a good start along with duplication of service of all 3 services.

Mark
Reply to  cornbread
14 March 2020 10:17 am

You know the OPP covers most of the county except for Cobourg and only ward 1 of Port Hope
At one time Cobourg look after HAMILTON Township , but their cost for the next contact was to expensive

Rob
9 March 2020 11:26 am

All of the Cobourg and area Emergency Services are first class, including the firefighters and CPS. If you don’t believe me, just wait until you are in need of a response and they show up at your home, the home of a loved one or the scene of your accident – you will never second guess the skill, ability, efficiency, professionalism or the cost of the service again.

Small town FD’s do much more than fire fighting – legislative compliance, emergency preparedness, community involvement, fire prevention and education, inspections, first aid response, station tours, equipment maintenance, mutual aid for the surrounding communities, etc… The aging population of Cobourg places more strain on the system not less, the increase in 401 traffic increases hazards, the crowded beach throughout the summers brings challenges – haven’t see the 2019 statistics but I’ll bet a pay cheque the number of incidents/calls are higher than 2018….

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  Rob
9 March 2020 1:00 pm

And your comments on the review to be undertaken are?

Rob
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
9 March 2020 2:43 pm

Review away … its an audit of sorts and generally audits make organizations better. Thanks for keeping me on point Canuck Patriot, god knows I’d hate to be only person off topic. You’re almost like a Blog Auditor, making things better. 🙂

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  Rob
9 March 2020 4:59 pm

The sarcasm was unnecessary. But thanks for your non-answer.

Frenchy
Reply to  Rob
9 March 2020 1:33 pm

Based on all your good comments above (I’m not arguing them), how do you respond to LEWEEZ’s question below?
“So how does Port Hope manage with only a couple full time employees?”

Rob
Reply to  Frenchy
9 March 2020 1:58 pm

I’d suggest anyone wanting to know the answer to this question have a meaningful conversation with members of the PH or Cobourg FD and ask them how they feel about the high number of volunteers and lower number of f/t fire fighters. We could ask them ask how taxed and/or under-manned they may feel. Could ask whether they feel they are delivering the necessary services or if there was more they could do with additional full time staffers? I’m unsure what impact Cobourg’s 15% larger and older population has on the service, but there could be some. To me 12 full time fire fighters covering 24 x 365 really doesn’t seem over crewed when you begin to factor in scheduled vacation, illness, injury and other forms of LOA’s.

All this being said, I suspect they would be in a better position to answer than me.

Informed
Reply to  Rob
9 March 2020 8:19 pm

No one does this because its easier not to.

Frenchy
Reply to  Informed
9 March 2020 10:42 pm

“No one does this because its easier not to.”
That’s a pretty bold statement Informed and if you are referring to going directly to the source, you would be wrong. I do it all the time and I’ll wager others do too.

Informed
Reply to  Frenchy
10 March 2020 8:48 am

Based on the comments i see i dont think you would win the wager.

Frenchy
Reply to  Informed
10 March 2020 9:08 am

You know, after getting a little chuckle out of Leweez’s comment, I’m thinking maybe she has a point… you aren’t that “informed”.

Informed
Reply to  Frenchy
10 March 2020 11:07 am

After reading some comments based on personal opinions and little by means of facts I think i have the edge😁

cornbread
Reply to  Frenchy
9 March 2020 3:39 pm

Do insurance companies (rates) charge more per $1,000.00 house evaluation in Port Hope versus Cobourg because of their volunteer fire dept.???
Lets here from someone in the home insurance business on this aspect of this discussion forum.

JimT
Reply to  cornbread
9 March 2020 6:13 pm

Hear, hear!

Informed
Reply to  Rob
9 March 2020 8:08 pm

A well thought out comment based on facts rather than perception

terry marrocco
8 March 2020 11:51 am

Great! Let’s hope we can have one Northumberland fire department…both for efficiencies… and to consolidate working together… might be a first step in getting libraries and police to amalgamate to at least West and East Northumberland regions?

Mark
Reply to  terry marrocco
8 March 2020 3:37 pm

Opp should just take over in Cobourg and Port Hope

cornbread
Reply to  terry marrocco
8 March 2020 4:16 pm

if you think that the consultant will recommend less fire dept staff…you forget, it ‘s a union shop. If anything, the force will want more men…just like the teachers…less students per class. Why do we need a consultant when we have a bunch of high priced fire chiefs/captains who should be responsible for efficiency of operations. Are they not responsible and put their jobs in the line like we do in real business situations?

Leweez
Reply to  cornbread
8 March 2020 4:43 pm

Exactly what I was thinking, also why does Cobourg need so many full time firefighters while Port Hope is manned by volunteers

Mark
Reply to  Leweez
8 March 2020 9:25 pm

One reason firefighters do a lot more than just fight fires
They get called out on most 911 calls as they are closer to call than the paramedics
They are now trained to give meds to people .
More of a paramedic now

Leweez
Reply to  Mark
8 March 2020 9:33 pm

So how does Port Hope manage with only a couple full time employees?

Informed
Reply to  Leweez
8 March 2020 11:43 pm

Day to day and the best they can

Informed
Reply to  Mark
8 March 2020 11:54 pm

I have been told all the cobourg firefighters are also inspectors. One of very few depts that operate with this business model in the province,creating efficiences through less divisions. Many fire departments are only now trying this. Cbourg has did it for over 20 years.

Leweez
Reply to  Informed
9 March 2020 12:13 am

Inspectors of what?

Informed
Reply to  Leweez
9 March 2020 8:44 am

Really? Drop in and ask. Its a public building.

Leweez
Reply to  Informed
9 March 2020 6:11 pm

I guess you aren’t that “informed”😂

Informed
Reply to  Leweez
9 March 2020 8:13 pm

Lol

Frenchy
Reply to  Informed
9 March 2020 5:36 pm

Why have a $100,000.00+/year firefighter doing building inspections when you could train someone else to do them for a lot less. Something like having bylaw officers enforcing bylaws instead of $100,000.00+/year 1st class constables. No?

Informed
Reply to  Frenchy
9 March 2020 8:15 pm

Are you serious?

Frenchy
Reply to  Informed
9 March 2020 10:28 pm

Yes Informed, absolutely serious.
Take a look at our own Police Service. We have tiered levels of staff. Sworn officers, then Auxiliary Officers (paid less and take on some of the more mundane duties), then Volunteers taking on even less crime fighting duties.
Law offices do it by hiring paralegals and clerks to do a lot of routine lawyerly tasks. Think for a minute and you’ll come up with some more examples on your own.
Do you really think it takes a fully trained firefighter earning over $100K to inspect a building ensuring it is up to code?

Informed
Reply to  Frenchy
10 March 2020 6:49 am

Perhaps you should grab a copy of the ontario fire code and you will have your answer

Frenchy
Reply to  Informed
11 March 2020 9:18 am

Firefighters go to Fire School not Astronaut School. A grade 12 diploma and their training program get you the job. If they can figure out the fire code book I’m sure you, I or a lot of other people could and do those inspections for a lot less than $100+K.

Informed
Reply to  Frenchy
11 March 2020 10:50 am

Ok.im done. You really dont have a clue. Maybe an overpaid paid librarian. Your right.

cornbread
Reply to  Mark
9 March 2020 6:05 am

This is nothing more than duplication of service. I have observed small collisions with Police, Paramedics and Fire Fighters at the same scene with many of these individuals just standing around.

Gerald Childs
Reply to  cornbread
9 March 2020 3:45 pm

“Paramedics and Fire Fighters and Police at the same scene with many of these individuals just standing around.”

A 911 call indicating an MVC (Motor Vehicle Collision) with unknown injuries is a Tiered Response which indicates Paramedic, Fire Fighters and Police will respond as per established protocols.
When I was a paramedic, and later an emergency medical dispatcher, the protocol was the same. I have checked with my contacts in my former service, Toronto, and there has been no change.
You may see them “standing around” – doing nothing (my words), however, I would suggest you are not privy to the information they have about the scene.
Not a duplication of services. Paramedics don’t have the power to charge a driver. Firefighters are not permitted to administer or treat a patient anywhere near the level of a Primary Care Medic with two years of college and hundreds of hours interning on the road with a Field Training Officer. And the Police certainly would not have the equipment to fight a fire or extricate a patient from a badly damaged car. 🙂

Informed
Reply to  Gerald Childs
9 March 2020 8:17 pm

Another educated and informed response

Informed
Reply to  cornbread
10 March 2020 8:40 am

Yes that one call out of over 1600 calls a year proves it.

JimT
Reply to  cornbread
8 March 2020 6:42 pm

Not all firefighters are men these days.

Informed
Reply to  cornbread
10 March 2020 11:11 am

I think they did when Horizon plastics and the odc caught fire. Which way did you run?