Dedicated to serving Vancouver with pride, our members courageously confront dangerous conditions to ensure the community’s safety. While serving as safety experts, we also champion prevention and draw attention to key issues that affect our members.
Increased Call Volume
Vancouver has the busiest fire hall in all of Canada and one of the busiest departments in the country. Call volume has only increased in recent years as we navigate overlapping public-health crises. Making sure we have a fully equipped team to avoid burnout, meet community demand, and ensure safety is paramount. Recently, we celebrated Vancouver’s City Council making room in the 2023 budget to fund an additional 33 team members who are already trained and serving our city.
Facing dangerous conditions day in and day out puts a lot of strain on frontline workers’ mental health. Part of our work includes advocating for stronger support for members, and educating members about existing resources available to them.
Cancer is a leading cause of illness and death for fire fighters. In 2023, parliament passed a bill that will help ease some of treatment costs, but we continue to call for better screening, push for research that helps reduce any pollutants in our gear, and support members facing these illnesses from on-the-job exposure.
The Opioid Crisis
Addiction issues heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic, and are now one of the number one challenges we face on the job. As such, we advocate for prevention measures including upstream funding to improve access to mental health and addiction services and reduce the number of emergencies.
The housing crisis is impacting all Canadians, and it is particularly challenging in Vancouver. How can our members afford to live in the City they proudly serve when faced with rapidly rising costs?
Moreover, as the number of unhoused individuals rises, the threat of associated fires has grown, particularly in the Downtown Eastside. This places heightened burdens on our members, manifesting as a surge in emergency call volumes and an escalated risk of potential explosive incidents.
These two critical issues represent key concerns that IAFF18 is actively addressing to provide steadfast support for our dedicated members.
Climate-Induced Weather Changes
Extreme weather changes are well-documented phenomena, and all first responders will face extra pressure because of these. While our colleagues across the country have been battling wildfires, in urban spaces like Vancouver, we are managing the impacts of higher temperatures on our call volume. The 2021 heat dome was especially challenging, and we anticipate more pressures in the future. Ensuring our fire fighters have the resources to meet these challenges is crucial.