Toronto firemen sum up 2012 report

TORONTO – The city fire department has released its year-end incident report for 2012.

The past year was a busy one for the department, with 100 incidents logged, according to fire Chief Frank McEwen.

According to department logs, calls broke down into 29 fire calls; one excessive heat call; five emergency or rescue incidents; 17 hazardous condition calls; 33 service calls; three good intention calls; nine false alarm calls; and three special incident calls.

McEwen said cost containment was important in 2012, with testing of equipment by outside agencies one of the most important costs to control.

“Fortunately for us, a lot of our suppliers and fire gear-testing companies held their prices,” said McEwen, adding testing costs last year were the same as in 2011. “That was a big plus for the department and the city.”

Annual testing must be performed on the department’s equipment as required by state law and standards, McEwen said. Testing must be performed on fire pumps, aerial ladders as well as all ground ladders and firefighter airpacks, which have “very specific standards they have to meet,” said the chief.

The department has contracts with certified contractors that perform the testing, he added.

“The standards have changed greatly, so the testing has changed as well,” McEwen said, adding testing is now more rigorous. “(The department’s equipment) must meet those standards to be approved for use. The same applies to fire hose-testing, which we do in-house. The company that does the airpack testing also kept its prices down, which was a plus. Just the testing alone in 2012 cost more than $4,000, and that doesn’t include maintenance or anything else.”

McEwen said updating of equipment also helped to control costs in 2012. “One of our advantages in 2012 was the city purchasing our new department truck.” McEwen said. “That saved us maintenance fees and firefighter transportation costs when they go away for training.”

The department currently has six full-time and 24 volunteer firefighters, according to the chief. This year’s emphasis again will be on cost containment, he said.

“For this year, cost control will be important because of the layoffs at TIMET,” said McEwen, adding the layoffs could affect the department’s budget. “We’re trying to work with the testing contractors to keep our costs down. We’re also going to continue in-house (firefighter) training at least once a month, as well as any additional training required by the state. We’re going to do as much in-house training as possible to help keep costs down.”