Calgary Needs Enough Firefighters in Fire Halls.

To keep Calgarians safe, we need to ensure our fire halls and our fire trucks are properly staffed. With current staffing levels, it is safer to live in Edmonton, Vancouver, or Toronto than Calgary.

Firefighting is a science and how many first responders show up when you call 911 should not come down to politics. 

Currently, Calgary does not meet the NFPA minimum standard for staffing requirements in a dense urban area. This is putting the lives and homes of Calgarians at risk.

We are simply asking for enough firefighters in fire halls and the tools to safely do our job. Calgary needs to meet the NFPA 1710 minimum standard of four firefighters on Engines, Ladders, and Rescues.


What is NFPA 1710?

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), offers standards on everything from the coat a firefighter wears into a fire; to the time it takes 911 to answer and dispatch a fire truck to an emergency; to the number of firefighters needed to safely and efficiently fight a fire; to how many firefighters should be on a truck.

NFPA developed the 1710 minimum standard to address the “minimum requirements relating to the organization and deployment of fire suppression operations, emergency medical operations, and special operations to the public by career fire departments."1

NFPA 1710 addresses two critical components;

  • how many firefighters should be on a fire truck

  • how many firefighters should respond to a fire

The NFPA 1710 minimum standard was originally released in 2001 with subsequent revisions in 2004, 2010, 2016, 2019, and most recently in 2020.

NFPA 1710 is applicable to all career Fire Departments and provides the MINIMUM requirements for resource deployment for fire suppression, EMS, and Special Operations, while also addressing firefighter occupational health and safety.2


Calgary is a Dense Urban Area.

NFPA 1710 defines an urban area as "an incorporated or unincorporated area with a population of over 30,000 people and/or a population density over 1,000 people per square mile (386 people per square kilometre) but less than 2,999 (1,157 people per square kilometre."3

Furthermore, a dense urban area is defined by NFPA 1710 as "an incorporated or unincorporated area with a population of over 200,000 people and/or a population density of over 3,000 people per square mile (1,158 people per square kilometre."4

  Population Population Density  NFPA Minimum Recommendation 
Engine Trucks Ladder Trucks
NFPA 1710 Definition of Urban  > 30,000 > 386 people/km2 but < 1,158 people/km2 5 5
NFPA 1710 Definition of Dense Urban  > 200,000

> 1,158 people/km2

6 6

 

Calgary has a population of 1,239,220 over an area of 825.56 square kilometres, for a population density of 1,501.1 people per square kilometre (3,887.5/sq mi).5

Downtown Calgary, which encompasses the communities of Downtown West, Downtown Commercial Core, Beltline, East Village, Eau Claire and Chinatown, has an estimated population density of 8,877/km(22,991/sq mi).6

 

Population

Area Population Density

What You Get in Calgary 

(Engine Trucks and Ladder Trucks)

Calgary 1,239,220 825.56 km2

1,501.1 people/km2

4

2

Downtown Calgary 43,498 4.9 km2 8,877 people/km2

4

2

 

We need the tools to reach all Calgarians, no matter where they live in the City.

To keep Calgarians safe, we need to ensure our fire halls and our fire trucks are properly staffed. Currently, Calgary does not meet the NFPA minimum standard for staffing requirements in a dense urban area. This is putting the lives and homes of Calgarians at risk.


How many firefighters should be on a fire truck?

Firefighters put out fires, not fire trucks. NFPA 1710 specifies the minimum recommended standard for crew size based on the different types of fire trucks:

  • On Engine Trucks, Ladder Trucks, or Rescue Trucks, the minimum standard is four firefighters per truck
  • If there are high call volumes or geographic restrictions, the minimum standard is five firefighters per truck
  • If there are specific tactical hazards, such as a dense urban area, the minimum standard is six firefighters per truck 7

What Happens in Calgary?

Engine Trucks

On Engine Trucks, the NFPA 1710 minimum recommended standard is four firefighters per truck.8  Calgary is staffed with four firefighters.

However, Calgary falls below the minimum industry standard in urban and dense urban areas that have geographic restrictions, high incidents and tactical hazards.

Firefighters Per Engine Truck (NFPA 1710 Standard)

What You Get in Calgary

Recommended Minimum

4 Firefighters 

4 Firefighters 

High Incidents, Urban Areas, Geographic Restrictions 

5 Firefighters 

4 Firefighters

Dense Urban Areas, Specific Tactical Hazards 

6 Firefighters

4 Firefighters

Ladder Trucks

On Ladder Trucks, the NFPA 1710 minimum recommended standard is four firefighters per truck.9  Calgary is staffed with two firefighters.

Calgary falls significantly below the minimum industry standard in urban and dense urban areas that have geographic restrictions, high incidents and tactical hazards.

Firefighters Per Ladder Truck (NFPA 1710 Standard)

What You Get in Calgary

Recommended Minimum

4 Firefighters 

2 Firefighters

High Incidents, Urban Areas, Geographic Restrictions 

5 Firefighters

2 Firefighters

Dense Urban Areas, Specific Tactical Hazards 

6 Firefighters 

2 Firefighters

Rescue Trucks

On Rescue Trucks, the NFPA 1710 minimum recommended standard is four firefighters per truck.10  Calgary is staffed with two firefighters.

Calgary falls significantly below the minimum industry standard in urban and dense urban areas that have geographic restrictions, high incidents and tactical hazards.

 

Firefighters Per Rescue Truck (NFPA 1710 Standard) What You Get in Calgary
Recommended Minimum 4 Firefighters  2 Firefighters
High Incidents, Urban Areas, Geographic Restrictions  5 Firefighters  2 Firefighters
Dense Urban Areas, Specific Tactical Hazards  6 Firefighters  2 Firefighters

 


Calgary has the lowest staffed metropolitan Fire Department in Canada.

With current staffing levels, it is safer to live in Edmonton, Vancouver, or Toronto than Calgary. 

Engine Trucks

NFPA 1710 Standard - ENGINE TRUCKS Calgary  Vancouver Edmonton Toronto
Recommended Minimum 4 Firefighters  4
High Incidents, Urban Areas, Geographic Restrictions  5 Firefighters  4
Dense Urban Areas, Specific Tactical Hazards  6 Firefighters  4

 

Ladder Trucks

NFPA 1710 Standard - LADDER TRUCKS Calgary  Vancouver Edmonton Toronto
Recommended Minimum 4 Firefighters  4 3
High Incidents, Urban Areas, Geographic Restrictions  5 Firefighters  5
Dense Urban Areas, Specific Tactical Hazards  6 Firefighters  5

 

Rescue Trucks

NFPA 1710 Standard - RESCUE TRUCKS Calgary  Vancouver Edmonton Toronto
Recommended Minimum 4 Firefighters  4 4
High Incidents, Urban Areas, Geographic Restrictions  5 Firefighters  6
Dense Urban Areas, Specific Tactical Hazards  6 Firefighters  6

 


How many firefighters should respond to a fire?

Every fire is unique. NFPA 1710 categorizes structure fires in three hazard levels:

1. Low Hazard is defined as a structure fire in a typical 2000ft2 (186 m2), two-story single-family dwelling without basement and with no nearby homes that the fire can spread to.11

2a. Medium Hazard is defined as a structure fire in a typical open-air strip shopping center ranging from 13,000 ft2 to 196,000 ft2 (1203 m2 to 18,209 m2) in size.12

2b. Medium Hazard is also defined as a structure fire in a typical 1200 ft2 (111 m2) apartment within a three-story, garden-style apartment building.13

3. High Hazard is defined as a fire in a building that is 7 floors or higher.14

What Happens in Calgary?

NFPA 1710 Minimum Recommendations for How Many Firefighters Should Respond

Type of Fire  Number of Firefighters 

What You Get in Calgary 

Low Hazard 17 Firefighters 22 Firefighters
Medium Hazard 28 Firefighters 24 Firefighters
High Hazard 43 Firefighters  28 Firefighters

 

Low Hazard Fire- Single Family Full Alarm Assignment Capability

NFPA recommended minimum standard effective response force is 17 Firefighters.15

Calgary sends 22 Firefighters and 1 Paramedic:

3 x Engine with 4 Firefighters

1 x Ladder with 2 Firefighters

1 x Rescue with 2 Firefighters

1 x AirLight or High Rise with 2 Firefighters

2 x District Chief with 1 Firefighter

1 x HazMat with 2 Firefighters

Additional Emergency Medical Support:

1 x Fire Response Paramedic with 1 Paramedic

 

Medium Hazard Fire - Open Air Strip Mall Full Alarm Assignment Capability 

NFPA recommended minimum standard effective response force is 28 Firefighters.16

Calgary sends 24 Firefighters and 1 Paramedic:

3 x Engine with 4 Firefighters

2 x Ladder with 2 Firefighters

1 x Rescue with 2 Firefighters

1 x AirLight or High Rise with 2 Firefighters

2 x District Chief with 1 Firefighter

1 x HazMat with 2 Firefighters

Additional Emergency Medical Support:

1 x Fire Response Paramedic with 1 Paramedic

 

Medium Hazard Fire - Apartment Initial Full Alarm Assignment Capability

NFPA recommended minimum standard effective response force is 28 Firefighters.17

Calgary sends 24 Firefighters and 1 Paramedic:

3 x Engine with 4 Firefighters

2 x Ladder with 2 Firefighters

1 x Rescue with 2 Firefighters

1 x AirLight or High Rise with 2 Firefighters

2 x District Chief with 1 Firefighter

1 x HazMat with 2 Firefighters

Additional Emergency Medical Support:

1 x Fire Response Paramedic with 1 Paramedic 

 

High Hazard Fire - High-Rise Initial Full Alarm Assignment Capability

NFPA recommended minimum standard effective response force is 43 Firefighters.18

Calgary sends 28 Firefighters and 1 Paramedic:

4 x Engine with 4 Firefighters

2 x Ladder with 2 Firefighters

1 x Rescue with 2 Firefighters

1 x AirLight and High Rise with 2 Firefighters

2 x District Chief with 1 Firefighter

1 x HazMat with 2 Firefighters

Additional Emergency Medical Support:

1 x Fire Response Paramedic with 1 Paramedic 


Solutions

Currently, Calgary does not meet the NFPA minimum standard for staffing requirements in a dense urban area. This is putting the lives and homes of Calgarians at risk. To keep Calgarians safe, we need to ensure our fire halls and our fire trucks are properly staffed.

We are simply asking for enough firefighters in fire halls and the tools to safely do our job.

Calgary needs to meet the NFPA 1710 minimum standard of four firefighters on Engine, Ladder, and Rescue trucks. Firefighting is a science and how many first responders show up when you call 911 should not come down to politics. 

Calgarians deserve public safety. The City of Calgary needs to take steps to meet minimum standards to ensure there are enough firefighters in fire halls.


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