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City wants compensation for medical calls

City councillors say the provincial government should pay when firefighters respond to medical calls.
Prince George Fire Rescue 1
Prince George city councillors are calling on the provincial government to compensate the city when firefighters respond to medical calls.

Members of city council are calling on the provincial government to reimburse the City of Prince George when Prince George firefighters respond to medical calls.

Coun. Kyle Sampson put forward a motion on the issue during a committee of the whole meeting on Wednesday to receive a report on the staffing and equipment needs for the Prince George Fire Rescue Service. The motion, to advocate to the provincial government directly and through the Union of B.C. Municipalities and other local government groups, will come back to city council and the city’s standing committee on intergovernmental affairs.

“This is putting a strain on our department, by having a significant number of medical calls,” Sampson said. “We are providing a great service, but at the end of the day medical (care) is a responsibility of the province. Fire is our responsibility.”

According to the report, Prince George firefighters responded to 5,553 medical calls in 2022, making up roughly 60 per cent of the record 9,208 call-outs Prince George fire crews responded to that year.

City manager Walter Babicz said he doesn’t believe any municipality in B.C. invoices the provincial government for responding to medical calls. A total cost to the city for firefighters responding to medical calls wasn’t available at the meeting.

Prince George Fire Chief Cliff Warner said the Prince George Fire Rescue Service is one of six fire departments in the province with enhanced medical capabilities. BC Emergency Health Services dispatchers decide if firefighters are dispatched to a medical call.

“We support the medical system,” Warner said. “If the call comes in, we will respond and protect our community.”