News — 11 April 2018

By Michael Christianson

Fire Chief Ryan Murrell presented Dryden City Council with four potential models for delivery of fire service within the community at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday evening. 

Murrell said they looked at many different models currently in place and noted the average cost of fire protection in Ontario is 7 per cent of the overall operating budget for municipalities while in Dryden’s is currently 2.89 per cent.

The first model presented is the current service as outlined in the 2018 budget. This model was in place before the work stoppage. This method utilizes trained volunteers at very high numbers. 

The full cost of department for this model is $808,507, the cost per household is $228.33 and the cost per capita is $104.34 amounting to 2.89 per cent of the total budget.

The second model seemed to be Murrell’s preference, and the model currently being used in Dryden, of the volunteers/work experience program model. This model includes a $30,000 living allowance for work experience program participants.

The full cost of department for this model would be $836,749, the cost per household would be $243.93 and the cost per capita would be $111.47 amounting to 3.08 per cent of the total budget. The difference from the 2018 budget would be $55,242 amounting to a cost per household increase of $15.60, an estimated tax increase of 0.39 per cent.

Murrell said the major benefit of the second option is getting highly trained pre-service fire students from colleges across Ontario; this program would be the first time the program would be tried in the province.

“All the schools I called out in B.C. or all the actual fire departments that are operating this work experience program today said that 50 per cent of their applicants come from Ontario, 50 per cent,” said Murrell. “So by our guess that looks like 65 people that are applying per course out there and if 50 per cent of them are coming from Ontario then why aren’t we doing this work experience program here in Ontario?”

The third model presented was the paid on call volunteers model.

The full cost of department for this model would be $946,899, the cost per household would be $267.41 and the cost per capita would be $122.20 amounting to 3.38 per cent of the total budget. The difference from the 2018 budget would be $138.392 amounting to a cost per household increase of $39.08, an estimated tax increase of 0.98 per cent.

The fourth model presented by Murrell was the full time/volunteer firefighters model. He stated that this model builds retention and recruitment opportunities. There would be guaranteed daytime coverage with 3 full time firefighters.

The full cost of department for this model would be $1,155,082 the cost per household would be $326.20 and the cost per capita would be $149.06 amounting to 4.13 per cent of the total budget. The difference from the 2018 budget would be $346,575, amounting to a cost per household increase of $97.87 an estimated tax increase of 2.46 per cent.

Murell also stated that the Dryden Fire Service currently has 25 applicants, eight of those previously served at Fire Hall #1 before the work stoppage.

Council concluded that they would need time to review the options.

Negotiating Chair of the Dryden Fire Fighters Association Darren Trist now says he believes there was an effort  to destroy the volunteer service from the start.

“The report boasts that they are $39,000 under budget but doesn’t say this years budget is $118,000 higher than last years for the first 3 months,” said Trist. “Its very concerning that they had a $30,000 increase in their Salaries/Wages budget even though staffing wasn’t supposed to change.  This line has ballooned an additional $17,000 above that with the paid members.  They were accounted for long before they were even here, just further proof that the Fire Chief had all of us targeted from the start.  Just another piece of evidence how calculated this move was to remove the volunteers that had 355 years of combined experience and replace them with new recruits.  The evidence continues to pile up.”

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About Author

Chris Marchand is a native of Dryden, Ontario. He served his first newspaper internship at The Dryden Observer in 1998 while attending journalism studies at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops B.C. He's worked desks as both reporter and editor at the Fernie Free Press as well as filled the role of sports editor at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. Marchand was named editor of the Dryden Observer in Aug. 2009.

(1) Reader Comment

  1. Hearing folks talk about the models and how confusing they are made me tune in and watch the meeting on cable. I was pretty sure I understood it ok when the fire chief explained things so I was a little surprised that the council person in charge of the meeting had trouble grasping the different concepts and scenarios that he explained. Everyone can read what they want or hear what they want apparently, but the simple fact that the dffa continues to be in denial over remains that no body would be removing or replace any body if the dffa had not chosen to withdraw their services from the community in the first place. What part of this do they not get. They don’t realize that withdrawing their services from the fire service was and still is no different than giving the community a big middle finger in the face of an emergency unless they got what they wanted first, (saying it isn’t so doesn’t change it, actions boys and girls, actions) Even their demands have had a habit of also being changed, even softened somewhat depending on who the target audience is. But in the beginning it was the right to consume alcohol in the association room which is located in a public safety building and owned by the city, and second to get rid of the chief because they lost trust in him or something. But first it was definitely getting alcohol back in their room, that was definitely their priority as taped council meetings with presentations show. As far as budget stuff goes, maybe the spokesperson for the dffa should ask someone at the city who is trained in this field to explain how budgets are prepared, read, what is included in a budget and why and how budgets increase,etc. before making statements to the public that just make them look stupid.

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