Kevin Mitchell, P.Eng

For Langley Township Council



About Kevin

(778) 871–3759



Candidate Questions from IAFF Local 4550 Fire Fighters

These are the questions that all candidates received in preparation for the all candidates meeting that was sponsored by  IAFF Local 4550 Fire Fighters. The questions have been typed in bold and my answers are in italics.

1. Frontline Fire Fighting Capabilities

A) The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1710 Standard states that 90 per cent of the time, four fire fighters should be on scene of a residential structure fire in four minutes of receiving the call, and 15 to 17 in eight minutes in order to constitute adequate protection of the public.

Should the Township be working toward this standard? Why, or why not?

A recent article by Dan Haden of the Toronto Fire Service published in Firefighting Canada magazine suggests that although NFPA 1710 requires very ambitious response goals, the decision to implement these targets must be balanced with several factors including resources, facilities, public safety and the particular circumstances for each service area.  I would suggest that the goals of NFPA 1710 should be considered as the Township Fire Department sets its performance targets but not be the sole driver in its strive towards excellence.

B) Fire protection is not just a cost to the Township of Langley and its taxpayers, but an investment in the community. Adequate fire protection, as described by NFPA 1710, saves lives, reduces property loss, reduces the economic impact of commercial and industrial fires by minimizing job losses and reduces residential and commercial insurance rates. Do you agree or disagree that these outcomes are important achievements in local governance? Why?

I agree that these outcomes are important when balanced with competing needs of a growing community including funding for schools, hospitals, infrastructure and other capital and operational requirements.

C) In your view, what things should the Township of Langley consider when making decisions about the number of fire fighters on duty, the number of fire apparatus in service and the number of fire stations in the Township?

Consider projected population growth; where, when and how many.  Review development types (single family, multi-family, condos.  Availability of funds (budget).

D) What changes, if any, do you think need to be made to the Township of Langley’s fire service?

Addition of paramedic service; paid fire fighters at all halls.

E) Who do you think Township of Langley’s council should consult on issues that involve fire protection, fire department capabilities and overall public safety? (Check all that apply - dot equals check mark)

Taxpayer’s association

Chamber of Commerce

Private consultants

Insurance grading organization

F) With different areas in Langley developing at different rates, where do you feel the 5th Full time fire station should be, Brookswood, Fort Langley and/or in another location with a new hall? and why?

Brookswood; next area for growth

G) Do you support internal promotions for future leadership positions? Why?

Yes, up to Deputy Chief.  Internal promotions encourage competition and bring out best in those driven to excel.  Fire chief should be nationwide search as the position will draw best of the best from anywhere in Canada.  Brings in fresh ideas.

H) What is your position on the Township of Langley relying on neighbouring municipalities to provide services such as Technical Rescue and Dangerous Goods response, which could be provided by the Full Time Firefighters in the Township of Langley?

In light of increasing rail traffic in the corridor, Township firefighters should be certified in both areas, particularly Dangerous Goods response.

I) In January of 2014 the taxpayers in the Township of Langley were asked to submit a supplemental questionnaire based on the 2014 Budget and Financial plan, an overwhelming number of respondents, 95% supported hiring additional firefighters to meet the minimum staffing and becoming WBC compliant. If elected will you support the hiring in order to meet the requirements?

It is expected whenever the public is faced with the question, “Do you want more protection”, be it firefighters, police or other emergency services they will overwhelmingly support it.  However, when faced with the cost of providing these additional services, it is much more difficult to convince taxpayers they should pay more for it.  The Council’s goal should be to improve these services year over year by looking for increased effectiveness in other departments and maintain minimum increases to an already overburdened taxpayer.

2. EMS

A) What is your current understanding of the role that the Township of Langley’s full-time fire fighters currently play in the delivery of Emergency Medical Services?

My understanding is that fire fighters are first responders; they offer limited medical assistance, primarily in getting victims into safe environment, applying first aid and trying to stabilize the severely injured.

B) Knowing that the Township of Langley’s fire fighters have existing medical skills, are strategically positioned throughout the municipality and often arrive on the scene of medical emergencies before ambulance-based paramedics, do you support:

Leaving things as they are

Reducing the number of medical calls fire fighters respond to in order to save fuel and reduce the             possibility of road accidents involving emergency vehicles

Unsure / would like additional information

C) What changes, if any, do you think need to be made to the way Emergency Medical Services as delivered in the Township of Langley?

Add paramedics to Fire Department, similar to other jurisdictions.  Winnipeg Fire Paramedics and other provinces.

D) A new Response Allocation Plan has made significant changes to emergency medical response times across British Columbia. Are you familiar with this issue and what are your thoughts on it as it would affect the citizens of our community? Would you do anything about the RAP if elected?

The November 2013 BCEHS RAP review garnered a lot of media attention as it recommended shifting (reducing) the severity of many 9-1-1 calls resulting in fewer ambulances and more first responders (firefighters) responding to medical emergencies.  This report and its recommendations have resulted in a significant shift in EMS responsibility to the province’s fire departments.  I believe this shift will, over time result in certain medical emergencies receiving inadequate service and dire results.  If elected, I would encourage Langley council to lobby the provincial government to reconsider the recommendations of the 2013 review and reinstate previous protocols.

3. Labour Relations

Despite a wave of freely-negotiated contracts for full-time firefighters in other BC municipalities, Township of Langley firefighters have been working under an expired contract since 2009. Township of Langley firefighters believe that elected municipal leaders have a role to play in helping to ensure this matter is resolved in a fashion that is fair and equitable to all parties involved. Please describe your thoughts on this particular issue.

Contracts should never be allowed to expire prior to re-negotiation.  Municipal leaders have an obligation to ensure staff prepares budgets and complete negotiations to avoid situations such as this.

4. General

A) What are your priorities for the Township of Langley and its residents if elected?

Drive developers to increase community amenities including funding for schools/hospitals and other services.

Restore citizen involvement in policy development and decision making through creation of resident committees including councillors as Township delegates

B) What in your view are the qualities that would make you a worthy member of Council?




Copyright 2014 Kevin Mitchell. All rights reserved.