posted August 8, 2015
Firefighters: All for one and one for all?
The date was December 10, 1983 Toronto Star printed the above
titled article. Thinking back many firefighters said it would
never happen as it would be too costly, response time wouldn’t
improve, etc, etc.
The article seem to predict much of the same, in fact only the
former City of Toronto would possibly save as they already paid
the most per capita and their cost would be spread out among a
larger population resulting in a savings. Of the six Mayors, Art
Eggleton (Toronto) had campaigned for total amalgamation, with Mel
Lastman (North York) showing some interest. Yet neither City’s
council favoured it. Keep in mind the discussion of one big
department had been discussed off and on by governments, Mayors
and councils for some 50 years. So its no surprise the status quo
remained at that time.
The article went on to speak of the probability of faster response
times if you lived in the suburbs as more stations would likely be
built with more firefighters and equipment. A new communication
system would send the nearest fire truck, wherever you lived. All
which would result in higher taxes?
Of particular interest was the statement in the article that an
“engine can race to an apartment building faster than it takes to
reach the burning apartment”. After 17 years of amalgamation
imposed by the Harris government the new amalgamated department
has only recently began compiling statistics on the actual
response time to the floor of the emergency. And even though
the challenge faced by firefighters in getting to the fire floor
has been known as far back as 1983 the current fire chief found it
okay to close one station and remove four trucks from service
without waiting for his own stats to be completed?
Over the years the six former departments had built new stations,
added new fire trucks and hired additional staff, to maintain or
improve the delivery of services. The provincial government(s) had
received three reports that said no to amalgamation, so at the
time it seemed the issue was settled.
Then along came the Harris government and the rest is