Nearly one in 10 Toronto fire trucks sit idle on daily basis due to staffing shortages: union

Nearly one in 10 fire trucks in the City of Toronto sit idle on a daily basis due to staffing shortages, a new report commissioned by the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association suggests.

The report conducted by the firm Eckler found that on any given day approximately 14 of the city’s 142 fire trucks are out of commission because there is insufficient staff available to “safely put them into active service.”

The report says that as of the end of September, there were 75 firefighter vacancies in Toronto, many of which due to retiring members who have not been immediately replaced.

This is despite the existence of a policy requiring that Toronto Fire Services hire new members whenever staffing drops 40 members below the approved complement of 2,691 firefighters.

“The staffing pressures highlighted in the Eckler report confirms what our fire fighters are experiencing on a daily basis, staffing shortages and fire trucks out of service and unavailable to help in an emergency,” Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association President Frank Ramagnano said in a press release announcing the results of the report. “With fires increasing across Toronto, our fear is the city is considering cutting vehicles rather than hiring new fire fighters without looking into whether these trucks and other emergency vehicles are needed. We must work together to ensure the people of Toronto receive appropriate care and services when they need them.”

The current policy is that there must be at least four firefighters to safely operate pumper and rescue trucks and three firefighters for more than a half-dozen other vehicles, including aerial trucks.

The report, however, says that Toronto Fire will soon move to a new staffing model which will require four firefighters for several of the vehicles that are currently allowed to be operated with only three.

In order to meet those new requirements, the report suggests that there will be a need to hire 252 more firefighters.

“In order for fire services to ensure minimum requirements are met for staffing, the City of Toronto must update its hiring methods to base them on recent data, including both scheduled and unscheduled leaves of absences,” Ramagnano said in the release.