After a number of successful negotiation meetings, the District of Squamish and International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2874 (IAFF) have ratified a new Collective Agreement for a term of January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2023.
This will result in 10 full-time fire fighters in September 2022, and then 12 full-time fire fighters in January 2023. There are 8 full-time firefighters in the community as of now.
This outcome reflects the rapid community growth of Squamish, and the increased service needs as a result.
“The IAFF Local 2874 Professional Fire Fighters is proud to have had a positive advancement in the ability of our membership to provide the highest level of service possible to our Squamish citizens,” says Union President and Squamish Fire Rescue Captain Kyle Derksen.
“This agreement, combined with the construction of two new fire halls, represents a significant commitment to keep pace with the growth and service expectations of our community. This initial investment in additional fire fighters will immediately allow for faster response times and allow us to enhance the safety and well-being of both our community and our responding fire fighters.”
This increase in staff allows for 24-hour paid full-time fire fighter coverage which will improve the level of service delivered by getting more fire fighters on scene quicker. The move to 24-hour coverage also creates a schedule that all parties acknowledge will positively contribute to fire fighter mental health and reduced fatigue. These improved staffing levels and service ability further supports the Fire Services Five Year Strategic Plan.
“The District of Squamish is pleased with the collaborative efforts that the Union, the employees and the employer brought to the table to finalize an agreement,” says District of Squamish Chief Administrative Officer Linda Glenday. “All staff at the District are recognized for their contribution to the highest levels of service to the community and this includes the staff within Squamish Fire Rescue.”
Squamish Fire Rescue attended 945 call-outs in 2021, 692 call-outs in 2020 and 730 call-outs in 2019. The department is on pace to top 1,000 calls in 2022 for the first time. Together with the paid on-call fire fighters, a team of 65 fire fighters (including career, paid on-call and administrative staff) serve Squamish.
“We are appreciative of the collaborative efforts to finalize this agreement and we thank the Union for their hard work and positive approach,” says District of Squamish Acting Mayor John French. “The IAFF members are exceptionally dedicated to serving their community, and the outcome of this agreement will help them do that in a more productive way, resulting in even better service for Squamish.”
Annual wage increases over the four-year term are 2.5% for 2020, 2021 and 2022 followed by an average of the comparable communities identified during negotiation for 2023, which are consistent with other fire departments across the province.