Laval ranks 6th in Quebec for per-resident cost of fire protection

However, city’s population is also booming, with heightened fire risks

The Laval Fire Department ranks sixth in Quebec for cost-efficiency on a per-resident basis, officials with the LFD revealed while tabling a risk assessment report for the years 2021-2025 with the city last week.

Laval is 6th most efficient

At $99 per citizen, the LFD, which serves a population of 433,990 City of Laval residents, ranked just behind Quebec City (population 569,399) which runs its fire department for $102.09 per resident.

The City of Montreal, with a population of 2,033,189 residents, topped the list with a fire department that was operated in 2020 at a cost of $165.39 per resident.

The cities of Lévis, Gatineau and Sherbrooke came next. Trois Rivières and Longueuil followed Laval as the seventh and eighth most efficiently-run fire departments in Quebec.

Careful spending, says fire chief

“We see to it that every dollar is carefully invested in Laval as far as the fire service is concerned,” said Patrick Taillefer, director of the Laval Fire Department, who explained the contents of the report during an online presentation on May 18.

According to provincial public security ministry requirements that have been in effect since the year 2000, every municipality in Quebec now must regularly compile and submit a report on fire safety risks to the government every few years.

The 2021-2025 report is the third submitted by the City of Laval’s fire protection service and summarizes actions taken from 2015-2019, as well as improvements the fire department plans to implement over the next four years.

Missed one target

According to the report, the fire department completed eight planned tasks during the last four years, but failed to deliver on one.

Those completed included the hiring of four new fire inspectors and 24 new firefighters, implementation of a new GPS vehicle-tracking system, reorganization of firehall No. 2 in Chomedey and firehall No. 5 in Saint-François, and the addition of seven pump trucks and three ladder trucks to the fire department’s fleet.

However, the replacement of firehall No. 6 in Laval-Ouest remains unfinished, although, according to the report, it is currently underway and scheduled to be completed either before the end of this year or early in 2022.

City growing, as are risks

The report notes that the City of Laval’s population and hence its fire risks have been growing fast in a relatively short span of years. Between 2013 and 2019 alone, Laval’s population rose by nearly 16,700 residents. As well, the Quebec Institute of Statistics is forecasting a demographic growth of 18.6 per cent from now to 2036, including a 7.41 per cent rise in the number of persons 65 years of age and older.

The report notes that the City of Laval’s fire protection risks have been growing fast in a relatively short span of years

In following through on a Public Security Ministry directive to assess the economic impacts of fire prevention on Laval’s territory, the report said that the number of deaths from fire-related causes was reduced, while the number of fires fell by one per cent, despite a three per cent annual increase in new construction.

10 firefighters/10 minutes

The Laval Fire Department’s current overall fire protection strategy calls for 10 firefighters to be mobilized within 10 minutes at incidents involving low risk buildings (which are the most common type of structure on Laval’s territory). The plan also calls for five additional firefighters to be mobilized in the five minutes following the first 10-minute period at buildings where risks are elevated or very elevated.

According to the report, the highest number of fire alarms were received over a ten-year reporting period by firehall No. 2 on Souvenir Blvd. in Chomedey and firehall No. 9 on des Laurentides Blvd. in Vimont.

More prevention planned

Looking to the future, the report says the fire department plans to invest more time and energy in the next four years concentrating on prevention. On-site inspections will be part of the plan, with student residences, seniors retirement homes, children’s daycare centres, reception halls, restaurants and residential religious institutions among the priorities.

Money-wise, the Laval Fire Department plans to spend more than $46.2 million from 2021-2025 on long-term investments, including the hiring of 32 new firefighters, two inspectors, a trainer/instructor and the purchase of new equipment.