The Fort Saskatchewan fire department is getting a full upgrade.
 
The city’s fire chief Shawn McKerry presented to council at the Tuesday (Mar.13) meeting.
 
“Council approved moving forward to a full-time fire fighting force to ensure we’re meeting a minimum of 10 minute response time, but having full-time firefighters at the station will probably result in more of a six to eight minute response time,” said mayor Gale Katchur. “I think this is very beneficial for our city.”
 
Fort Saskatchewan council will increase the fire department’s operating budget by $1.4 million over the next two years, by 2019 the budget will be just over $3.5 million.
 
“Right now without having firefighters in the station, we have a delay of say five to upwards of 12 minutes that it takes firefighters to leave their place of work or their home and drive to the station,” said McKerry.
 
He noted that basically for a cup of coffee a month, residents now have the security that a fire truck will be at their doorstep within four to ten minutes, 90 per cent of the time.
 
“It will result in a moderate tax increase, but I think at the end of the day the public would say, 'you know, based on even a 1.0 or 1.4 per cent tax increase, which may be $30 a year, give or take, for about $2.50 a month, I’m more than willing to pay that to ensure I have fire services,'” added Katchur.
 
The department will look at how they can hire people and bring them into their system over the next 12 months.

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