WFPS weighs “risky” options after ask to find savings in city budget

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service says a request from the city to find $3 million in savings is forcing them into a risky scenario.

WFPS chief Christian Schmidt says the savings have to come from within the fire service as EMS is fully funded by Shared Health.

He says the only way to achieve this on an annual basis would be to reduce staff numbers, as salary costs make up 86 per cent of total expenditure.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

But because their 2024 firefighter recruiting class is already underway, which would provide an increase in staffing numbers heading into summer vacation, Schmidt says this option is not available this year.

A report to City Hall reads “terminating employment of the last-in firefighters who are currently in training would be disingenuous and would contribute to ongoing, increasing fire costs.”

Story continues below advertisement

So the WFPS is proposing this year to reduce overtime expenditure, but it would mean five fire apparatuses would be removed from active service, which the report warns could impact response times.

“This option creates operational risk depending on the number/severity of fire events that may occur,” says the report, which will be discussed at next Wednesday’s Community Services Committee meeting.  “This is not recommended from an operational perspective, but is the only way a cost saving of $3 million can be achieved in 2024.”

Beyond this year, the city says it might have to scrap its 2025 recruitment of firefighters  and permanently remove around 24 firefighters and apparatuses from operational duty.

More on Politics

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.