Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 4:45 AM

St. John's Regional Fire Department Receives Top Grade

The St. John's Regional Fire Department recently received a glowing review by the Fire Underwriter's Survey, an independent national organization which audits Fire Departments and provides public fire protection data to insurance companies for underwriting purposes.

As a result of the report, the St. John's Regional Fire Department received new insurance grades of Class 1 (Residential) and Class 1 (Commercial). This makes the St. John's Regional Fire Department one of only three cities in Canada (Montreal and Hamilton being the other two) to earn this top classification. Prior to this new grading the Fire Department had insurance grades of Class 1 (Residential) and Class 3 (Commercial).

"We have made great strides forward in the fire protection services we provide our residents and I am very pleased that this report confirms what we have known all along - that we have one of the best fire departments in the country," says Ward 1 Councillor Danny Breen, co-chair of the St. John's Regional Fire Services Committee. "There is always room for improvement, but this new classification reinforces that we had focused our efforts in the right direction and I have the utmost confidence that this positive trend will continue in the future."

The insurance grades are based 70 per cent on fire department related factors and 30 per cent on how well a municipality provides the necessary water to fire departments for firefighting purposes. With respect to the St. John's Fire Department, numerous aspects were reviewed and scrutinized, some of the key aspects including:

• Administration
• Communications
• Operations
• Fire Safety and Inspection
• Training
• Vehicle Maintenance
• Specialty Response
 

The report stated that "the changes and improvements in these areas over the past 10 years can only be achieved through the commitment of excellent leadership of the Department and the Cities which they protect."

The report also called the administration of the St. John's Regional Fire Service "an administration with a vision" and that over "the past 10 to 12 years they have taken a service that was respectable and made it a model for the fire service in Canada."
 
One of the areas of note in the report is that because of improvements to the Regional Water System we have significantly improved our ability to provide the necessary water to all areas of both cities, which had a significant impact on the grading.

Another key area of improvement was the communications centre, which was described as "a well designed and constructed centre operated by a staff that is well trained and committed to excellence in all aspects of their position."

"This report clearly points out that our staff is second to none at the St. John's Regional Fire Department," says Councillor John Walsh, co-chair of the St. John's Regional Fire Services Committee. "I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of them for their hard work over the past decade, which has helped us grow into one of the best fire departments in the country. This report is something that every citizen in St. John's, Mount Pearl and the other municipalities we provide services to should take great pride in."

As a direct result of the improvements in the Fire Department and the municipal infrastructure over the last 10 to 12 years and the high grading the St. John's Regional Fire Department has received, commercial properties will likely benefit from a reduction in fire insurance premiums.

"Countless hours of work and commitment by the department was a key in receiving the new grading and it is something that each member should be very proud of, it was a team effort," says Mike Dwyer, Director, St. John's Regional Fire Department. "In addition to this the Cities of St. John's and Mount Pearl need to be commended for their financial commitment and trust in the Department, as it also was a major contributing factor to the new grading."

Improvements to service delivery in the region will continue over the next few years. In the 2012 capital budget, the Regional Fire Services Committee approved $200,000 to undertake design of a new fire station in the west end of the City, construction should be completed by 2013. Tenders will also be called in 2012 for the acquisition of a new Command Vehicle at a cost of $180,000 and a replacement Pumper for delivery in 2013 at a cost of $400,000. These investments will strengthen the Fire Department's capacity to protect homes, businesses and citizens in the region.

The St. John's Regional Fire Department serves the cities of St. John's and Mount Pearl and provides emergency services to surrounding municipalities.

For Further Information:
Jennifer Mills
Communications Officer
City of St. John's
Phone: (709) 570-2037
Cell: (709) 690-7586
E-mail: jmills@stjohns.ca

Danny Breen
Ward 1 Councillor
Co-chair, Regional Fire Services Committee
City of St. John's
Phone: (709) 576-2332
E-mail: dbreen@stjohns.ca

John Walsh
Councillor
Co-Chair, Regional Fire Services Committee
City of Mount Pearl
Phone: (709) 748-1030
E-mail: jwalsh@mountpearl.ca