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Penticton hiring 4 new firefighters

The new hires will bring the total number of firefighters up to 40
Penticton fire investigators take out boxes of evidence from the fatal Dec. 10 fire on Lakeshore Drive. (Monique Tamminga Western News)

The City of Penticton is looking to hire four new firefighters.

One position needs to be filled by 2023 with the others coming over the next few years. The postings come after a proposal from Coun. Campbell Watt.

“Once we got the go-ahead from council, we wanted to move quickly so we can get the new personnel in place as quickly as possible,” said Fire Chief Larry Watkinson. “It will take a couple of months to complete the hiring phase and then another few months of training before they can be fully integrated. We’re excited about this opportunity and how it will increase the operational readiness of the department.”

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The fire department in Penticton currently utilizes three-person crews for their engines, with the additional four members allowing them to move to the industry standard with four-person crews. That would allow for a single engine to have enough crew members to make an entry into burning buildings.

The firefighters were included in the budgets for 2023 to 2026, and for each year until 2026 the early firefighters will be paid out of the city’s general surplus. The new hires will bring the total number of firefighters up to 40.

The Penticton Fire Department has seen its calls skyrocket, driven by a 40 per cent increase in the number of medical emergencies they have been responding to.

According to a recent independent report, the city’s firefighters have been making up for shortfalls from the province in funding for ambulance services in the community.

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At the same time, the department still has to be ready to respond in the case of structure fires, and later in the year wildfires if necessary.

“The work that the Penticton Fire Department is simply exemplary,” said Mayor Julius Bloomfield. “Council recognizes the commitment the entire team makes to keeping the community safe and these additional resources will allow the PFD to continue to grow and serve the needs of residents.”

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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