Penticton Fire Department.

Penticton Fire Department.

Reinforcements on the way for Penticton Fire Department

Four new firefighters are set to arrive by the summer

Reinforcements for Penticton Fire Department will arrive by the summer.

The selection process for the four new firefighters has begun, and Fire Chief Larry Watkinson said that the goal is to have them on the job in June.

Once the additional firefighters arrive, the department will be up a contingent of 40 with enough on-duty staff to move to four-person teams per-engine. A 40-person staff and four-person crew per-engine would meet the national standard and allow for firefighters on a single engine to make entry into a structure fire.

In addition to the new firefighters, the department’s new Engine 202 will also be arriving soon.

That engine will combine the current Rescue 202 and Engine 202 into a single vehicle.

READ MORE: Penticton firefighters understaffed and facing burnout: Union.

The new 202 is separate from the 100-foot platform ladder truck listed in the proposed 2023 capital budget.

That engine, if approved by council, will replace the department’s existing ladder truck. It won’t arrive immediately either.

“It’s about a three-year build for that engine,” said Watkinson.

The new ladder truck is a necessity for the city as the number of high-rise buildings continues to grow.

Watkinson is also busy collecting the the data and information on the fire department’s busy medical responses.

One of the recommendations in the recent community safety services report called for the fire department to bring forward a rapid response unit focused on medical calls. The data that is being collected, which Watkinson is currently planning to cover at least six months, will be used as part of the evidence in the pitch for that unit to city council.

“I need to be able to stand in front of council and say this is really what we’re up against, because the problem is our track record has been through the pandemic, and there’s no normality in the pandemic,” said Watkinson. “Now that we have a bit more of a standard year, we should be able to provide a more reliable statistical background of what we’re up against.”

The analysis of the data and the results will be presented to city council within the year.

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