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Survey says 87% of Surrey residents want more firefighters hired

‘We’ve been on the back-burner for a while now,’ says Saverio Lattanzio, president of the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Association
File photo

A telephone survey of 402 Surrey residents conducted by Research Co from Sept. 12 to 16 found that 87 per cent of respondents want more firefighters hired here in an effort to keep up with the city’s exponential growth.

“We’ve been on the back-burner for a while now. We’ve seen little growth over the last few years and it’s a significant issue. People talk about public safety, it’s not just police, it’s also bylaws and of course the fire service,” Saverio Lattanzio, president of the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Association, told the Now-Leader.

“There’s challenges with response times and dealing with more intense issues like the heat dome, opioid crisis, aging population, just more volume. Like there’s so much population coming here and so many more structures, and complex structures, that we have to deal with.”

Surrey has 374 firefighters. “I would to see another 60 to 80 on top of that over the next few years,” said Lattanzio, a firefighter for 23 years already.

The city’s last bump-up in hiring, Lattanzio said, was 10 more firefighters to cover the Guildford area. He said the survey results indicate nine out of 10 eligible Surrey voters in Surrey want more fire trucks on the streets and almost that many – 89 per cent – want to see another fire hall here that is “specifically tailored with the appropriate equipment and firefighters for managing emergencies and fires in high rise buildings.”

“The Surrey Fire Service needs immediate attention with a growth plan for additional resources,” Lattanzio said, stressing that Surrey’s firefighters are “stretched thin, suffering from burnout and in dire need of staffing. Properly resourced fire protection must be maintained to ensure public and firefighter safety.”

The survey also indicates 87 per cent of Surrey residents support bringing Surrey’s staffing levels to “the average ratio” now seen in Vancouver, Burnaby, Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa.

Mario Canseco, president of Research Co, stated in a press release that as the civic election campaign continues in Surrey “voters across the entire city believe it is time to hire more fire fighters and make additional investments in equipment.”

The survey indicates almost 69 per cent of Surrey voters want the firefighters-to-residents ratio to increase as the city grows and 79 per cent think it’s “very important” Surrey’s next mayor improves firefighters’ safety and ensures “proper response to emergencies in Surrey.”

The survey’s data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for region in the City of Surrey. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 4.9 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

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Tom Zytaruk

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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