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Vernon Fire Service overtime "not sustainable"

Vernon fire chief Keith Green
June 11, 2013 - 11:21 AM

VERNON — A strategy is being put in place by the Vernon fire department to extinguish overtime costs by the end of 2014.

Fire chief Keith Green told city council Monday that an overtime trend that started in 2011 is not sustainable. He says blazes like the August Birnie Road fire and the Rise fire contributed substantially to the gross overtime cost of  $313,082 for 2012. Other overtime drivers include statutory holidays, and Green says five staff must be on duty every day of the year, including Christmas.

"Family Day will add another stat where we are paying overtime," Green says.

Off duty training also played a part in firing up overtime. Despite efforts to incorporate training into on-duty work, Green says 209 hours of off-duty training time were included in the gross overtime total. With senior staff beginning to retire, Green says it was essential to bump members of the crew up to the Fire Officer I and II levels.

"Officer training is now complete for many years," Green says.

A number of strategies are being put in place to achieve the department's goal of reducing overtime by $56,630 over the next two years. Green says a new dispatch system will allow the service to better prioritize which calls they respond to. If a call doesn't meet their criteria, the system will automatically tell B.C. Ambulance they aren't coming.

Green says on-duty training will continue to be emphasized and pre-planned estimation sheets for scheduling will be implemented to keep overtime at a minimum. 

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call (250)309-5230. Follow on Twitter @charhelston

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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