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City Council approves hiring of eight new firefighters

​Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services (LFES) will soon have more resources to help in dealing with increased response demand.

City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously in favour of supporting the hiring and training of an additional eight firefighters in 2022.

These positions will be funded, in 2022, from unspent operating dollars at a cost of $884,600. Ongoing costs of approximately $1 million to $1.3 million per year will be absorbed by LFES with no additional tax pressure.

"We want to thank Lethbridge City Council for their commitment to safety in our community," says Greg Adair, Chief of Fire & EMS. "To ensure a sustainable, safe and effective fire/rescue response force, LFES must continue to move forward with the implementation of a parallel fire/EMS system. Moving to a parallel service requires additional personnel to maintain the current service level."

A number of changes during the past several years have affected the fire/rescue response in Lethbridge, including:

  • Increased long distance transfers
  • Responding to emergency calls outside of Lethbridge
  • Increased EMS call volumes
  • Relocating LFES ambulances to outside communities as their ambulances are unavailable
  • Loss of situational awareness of the LFES ambulances due to the loss of EMS dispatch to AHS
  • No additional EMS resources added since 2015 

"The safety of our residents is always a top priority for City Council," says Deputy Mayor Jenn Schmidt-Rempel, who is also Chair of the Community Safety Standing Policy Committee which, at its May 12 meeting, sent recommendations to Council.

In 2014, LFES entered into an Alberta Health Services EMS contract that allowed EMS resources to aid in fire suppression. This model is no longer effective as EMS resources are fully committed to EMS events, leaving very limited capacity to support the fire/rescue operations. EMS contract negotiations with AHS will commence in the fall of 2022.

As part of the resolution, Council also approved Option A: Parallel Service - Base Case. This will provide fire/rescue resources the availability to respond to medical emergencies and be available to engage, safely and effectively, in fire/rescue operations. LFES continues to transition from three-person to four-person fire apparatus, as previously directed by Council. This transition started in 2021 to ensure LFES has a standard deployment of 24 firefighters on each platoon.