The Statement of Financial Information from the city shows that, once again, the city’s payroll is more than $12 million.
And when you look at the list of people who are making more than $75,000, once again a lot of the names on that list can be found down at the Fire Hall. You see, Prince Rupert, unlike other municipalities in the Northwest, have a full-time fire department as opposed to a volunteer or auxiliary department.
The use of full-time firefighters, and the accompanying expense to the city, has been the subject of many discussions and debates since my arrival in Prince Rupert in 2006. Some say if Terrace and Kitimat can get away with a lesser system, surely the City of Prince Rupert can do the same and put that money toward much needed infrastructure improvements.
You can certainly not count me among those people. When it comes to the safety of family, friends and the place we call home, knowing that full-time, professionally trained firefighters are watching over Prince Rupert is a worthwhile expense.
Yes, there are volunteer organizations that work well. But for every volunteer organization that is booming and succeeding, there are probably three more that are failing due to waining interest and volunteerism throughout the region and, it seems, the country.
And there are some things volunteers are perfectly capable of doing and doing exceptionally well. You will never hear me knock the people that give of their time to make the community a better place.
I just don’t see fighting fires and putting their lives on the line as being one of those things. Much like anything that entails a lot of risk, firefighting is something that is best left to the pros.
Which brings me to my final point – firefighter pay.
Yes, most firefighters are making more than $75,000 per year. But I would never begrudge them that and nobody else should.
Would you run into a burning building for less?