• fireservice2

    Analyzing Thorold’s rising costs in comparison to neighboring municipalities

    Since my last post an article has appeared in Niagara This Week in regards to the fire services review Aug/21/2014. Several issues raised, I was going to address in my post and will. As stated previous I will provide all with stats. In regards to municipalities mentioned.

    In regards to pop. Last census conducted 2011


    Population: 17,931 (2011)
    Fire Operating Budget $ 3.09 mil (2012)
    20 Full-time Staff
    16 career firefighters
    Training Officer
    Fire Prevention Officer
    Fire Chief
    110 volunteers @ 4 stations covering 83 sq. km.


    Pop: 16,598
    Fire Operating Budget $1.14 mil (2012)
    4 full-time staff
    Fire Chief
    Administrative Assistant
    Fire Prevention Officer
    By-law Enforcement/Property Standards Officer
    86 Vol. @ 3 stations covering 126km.

    West Lincoln

    Pop: 13,837
    Fire Operating Budget $871,000
    2 full-time staff
    Fire Chief
    Deputy Fire Chief/Fire Prevention Officer
    47 Vol. @ 2 stations covering 388 sq. km.


    Pop: 15,400
    Fire Operating Budget $1.1 mil. (2012)
    5 full-time staff
    Fire Chief
    Deputy Chief Training Officer
    Fire Prevention Officer
    Administrative Assistant
    108 Vol. @ 5 stations covering 133 sq. km.

    Fort Erie

    Pop: 29,960
    Fire Operating Budget 1.65 mil (2012)
    6 full-time staff
    Fire Chief
    Deputy Chief
    2 Fire Prevention Officers
    Public Safety Officer
    137 Vol. @ 6 stations covering 166 sq.km.


    I had mentioned previous that we have 18 front line fire fighters. That is because the training officer and fire prevention officers worked overtime covering for the 16 career firefighters. Both appear on the sunshine list making over $100,000 a year.
    In fact in 2012 and 2013, 33% of our full-time firefighters were on the sunshine list.

    The highest average in Ontario and from the info I have collected from other provinces.

    There are in fact 464 fire departments in the province. Only 31 have a full -time force. Thorold is among the 433 that either are all volunteer or both. Its begs the question why? And if there are other municipalities that are providing a different service model, perhaps we should look at providing a different service model also.
    Thorold's fire budget 3.09 mil: For as stated on page 111 :
    In the 2012 budget year, approximately 90 percent of the fire department expenditures were for personnel salaries and related expenses ( such as benefits, overtime, etc.)
    That equals 2.79 mil. which is associated with the above mentioned.
    Note: Only roughly 350,000.00 is for 110 volunteers covering 4 districts.
    The rest is for 20 full-time staff. App. 2.44 mil. Which equates to $122,000.00 per employee average Some less some more.
    If we look at N.O.T.L., Pelham and West Lincoln their combined budget is 3.37 mil. Just $280,000.00 difference. This what you would get in regards to service and manpower

    Combined stats: Pelham, West Lincoln,N.O.T.L.

    Pop: 45,835
    Fire Operating Budget: $ 3,371,000.00
    12 Full-time staff
    3 Fire Chiefs
    2 Deputy Chiefs
    3 Fire prevention officers
    2 Adminstrative Assistants
    1 Training Officer
    1 By-law enforcement property standards officer
    241 volunteers
    10 Stations
    Covering 647 sq. km.


    Population: 17,931 (2011)
    Fire Operating Budget $ 3.09 mil (2012)
    20 Full-time Staff
    16 career firefighters
    Training Officer
    Fire Prevention Officer
    Fire Chief
    110 volunteers @ 4 stations covering 83 sq. km.

    NOTE: And not 1 front line firefghter. Thorold has 18.
    If other municipalities can do it for less and provide the same or better service then Thorold. Then to me as a taxpayer and citizen its a problem and it needs to be fixed. We need to ask ourselves. What are they doing right, and what are we doing wrong?

    If we do as suggested by the consultant. Utilize the full-time during peak hours and the volunteer during non peak hours. And base the full-time on 10-12 hour day shifts as mentioned would save the city substantial amounts of monies. Provide better protection and service during peak and non peak hours.
    My next post will provide the financial information in regards to savings. Give a layout of shifts to be workrd by both full-time and volunteer. Provide a time frame. Comment on the need for a new airiel and station. And also the status of our halls.


  1. Port Robinson Proud says: August 30, 2014 at 2:40 amReply

    I’m certainly in agreement that fire services costs are high in comparison to other municipalities. Those statistics speak for themselves. But the question is, what do you do with the full-timers who are under contract? You can’t just kick them to the curb. What’s your solution?
    As for Port Robinson’s Station 3, it’s always on the chopping block, at least with this current mayor and council. It’s like they can’t seem to understand that Port Robinson’s geographic isolation from the main core of the city and the potential barriers with all the CN tracks mean that it’s even more important to keep and maintain a volunteer station in Port Robinson. Not to mention that our house insurance will rise if the distance to the nearest fire station increases. But it’s not like our taxes will get lowered for less services out here. Jim, you make some valid points, but Port Robinson residents want, need and demand that our voices be heard on this issue. We want, need and must have emergency services available to the residents. The $60K per year that Station 3 costs is a small price to pay for safety and protection.

    • Jim Handley says: August 30, 2014 at 2:38 pmReply

      I have no intention of kicking any full-time firefighters to the curb. On my next post. I will provide you with an 18 month plan. Where over that period a reduction in staff could occur. With no effect on fire service. I will also address your concerns with Stn. 3. I intend to improve Stn. 3 not eliminate it.

      • Port Robinson Proud says: August 30, 2014 at 2:50 pmReply

        Ok, thanks for the reply. Looking forward to your next post ..have a great long weekend.

  2. Rick Honsberger says: September 1, 2014 at 12:56 amReply

    Jim your comparisons mean nothing. You have been on this kick for years. I have already presented and showed the flaws with your comparisons. More importantly your ideas were never supported by a majority of council when you were last in office. The only intelligent comments I have read on your site come from Port Robinson, who what you can do with the Professional Fire Fighters contract and that is nothing. Freely negotiated, hours of work,staffing and vacancy clause. Let’s put the facts on the table, PP is absolutely correct insurance rates will be affected with any reduction in stations, but also full time strength as you know that is contained in the latest I.A.O. report. But more importantly you have crossed the line by calling me a liar, and stating the Association has taken a position that is incorrect all on your public web page. I can prove all of this and will not only do it, but hold you accountable for your reckless comments meant to do nothing more than harm my reputation and that of the Thorold Professional Fire Fighters. While you claim to state the facts, how about telling the public what was paid to the City Labour Lawyer during your last term as a councillor when you tried to break our contract clause with regards to staffing. You can not have legal bills paid by the taxpayer now because of your reckless comment you are not a councillor. We have defeated you in the past and will continue to if you are elected. You self proclaimed expertise on the fire service amounts to nothing more than a threat to public and fire fighter safety. Now let’s see if you print my reply, doubtful.

  3. Rick Honsberger says: September 1, 2014 at 1:34 amReply

    Further more to my previous comments it is important to note that the mayor reported in his state of the union address on March 4th 2014 and I quote “Thorold has the fourth lowest tax rate in the Region. The question is what are the other municipalitys doing wrong, they have no Professional Fire Fighters. Thorold Fire and Emergency Services is far more superior to those municipalities, who can not guarantee a manned pump will show up to there emergencies. Enough I am finished with you,you have nothing worth listening to any further, oh one more thing why don’t you explain what happened in Kapuskasing?

  4. Rick Honsberger says: September 1, 2014 at 11:21 pmReply

    Who ever port proud is they are fueling fear about Stn 3 closing which is not even up for discussion at the present time. They hide behind web sites like you.

  5. Beth says: September 2, 2014 at 4:06 pmReply

    David or Rick can you answer a couple questions for me.
    If I have a fire at my house on Keefer how long will it take for a volunteer fire truck to show up compared to a full time truck? I am guessing a full time truck would be quicker so why would they only be used during day time hours? I would think you would want a quicker response time at night when people are sleeping and need to be rescued. David would this system have a large tax saving? To me it is seems like I would be paying the same rate for less service.

    I just did some reading on the Kapuskasing labour issue like rick mentioned and looks like the city spent a large amount in legal fees. Would this change end up costing Thorold tax payers anything or would the unions agree on a schedule? I am confused how this idea would better our fire service and save money.

  6. Rick Honsberger says: September 2, 2014 at 7:06 pmReply

    Beth this is Rick, you ask very good questions. I am just as interested as you as to how Jim will answer. I do not want to answer anything on his site. I would gladly call you if you provide me with your number, or call the station 905-227-6412 ext23, and provide that info to the on duty staff who will get it to me.

  7. Jim Handley says: September 7, 2014 at 2:09 amReply

    Unlike Rick I will answer. The Hall would be manned by part-time firefighters when not manned by full-time. Both being union members. Thus assuring yourself that there will always be a fire fighter on duty to respond if needed. By having part-time firefighters on duty at night. Frees up more full-time to work during the day. Full-time during peak hours. Part-time during non-peak hours as suggested by the consultant on pages 109 and 110 of the report. Paid for with taxpayers dollars. I hope this addresses your concerns. Sorry for the delay in responding.