Quinte West approves new firefighter training officer in 2024 budget talks

City of Quinte West municipal offices. – Photo by Emma Persaud

Quinte West council is looking at its own city staffing needs in today’s budget talks.

As the council continues trying to lower the tax hike expected for 2024, they spent this morning (Monday, Jan. 8) looking at various staffing positions needed to increase the services in the community. A report found that Quinte West was understaffed in 2021 with roughly 6.5 full time employees per 1,000 residents compared to similar communities with 11 staff per 1,000 residents.

Quinte West council has been discussing the budget since the beginning of December, looking for any possible cuts to avoid a large tax increase.

With four positions under consideration, the first on the chopping block was a firefighter training officer. Fire Chief John Whelan said the position will help fulfill provincial mandates and maintain the excellence of the firefighters, both full time and volunteers.

Whelan also said the position cannot wait another year. “We already delayed it once and cannot do so again,” he explained. ‘We have barely been getting by. Our managers and volunteers have other jobs and family…we are having trouble keeping up quite frankly.”

Firefighters who are not trained and certified by a training officer are unable to enter burning buildings and are focused solely on fire management. With a trainer certifying volunteers, it would increase the services that can be offered in an emergency. They can also serve as a firefighter in Quinte West as needed.

After a long back-and-forth discussion lasting over half an hour, the position was approved with a vote of 7 – 5. The rest of the positions have been delayed to the end of the day as the council continues to seek cuts to other projects to try to keep this year’s the taxes low.

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