By GILLIAN SLADE on January 14, 2021.
Medicine Hat Fire Service may be reducing its workforce without compromising safety, says the chief.
“The city is evaluating staffing models that do not compromise firefighter or resident safety, and at the same time find opportunities for cost reduction,” said Brian Stauth in an email. “The 2020 Fire Service Strategic Plan was adopted by city council on Jan.4 and commits to upholding current response time targets and the current number of firefighters (14) on duty.”
The union representing Medicine Hat firefighters was notified of possible layoffs in accordance with the collective agreement, said Stauth.
Although there are reports of eight positions being terminated, Stauth would not confirm that number. He did say the positions affected would be firefighters and not administrative positions.
Stauth says under the current staffing model there are times when the department is overstaffed and times when it is understaffed.
” We are evaluating staffing models that maintain staffing levels at 14, reduce or eliminate overstaffed times, and reduce overtime costs when understaffed,” said Stauth. “The city will not compromise firefighter or resident safety.”
It is unclear when layoffs could take place.
Stauth says an analysis is still taking place to determine what is necessary regarding staffing levels.
“There may not be anyone laid off, or there could be 8 laid off … we do not know yet,” said Stauth.
Any full-time staff that are ultimately affected by layoffs would be offered the option of being a casual employee who would fill in when regular employees are on vacation or are sick and unable to work.