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Administrative capacity exceeded for emergency management and fire rescue: budget presentation

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
January 17th, 2023

Two of the city’s largest helping programs are currently ‘exceeding administrative capacity’ and are looking to City Hall for help of their own.

Nelson Fire and Rescue (NFR) and Emergency Management (EM) have approached the City of Nelson in unison — at a Jan. 13 special meeting on the city’s budget — and are asking city council for a new position to be created to help both organizations move ahead.

Over the past six years the workload and projects of NFR and EM have evolved significantly, it was noted in the presentation last week, while the administrative support has remained the same.

“With the increase in available grants, changes in legislation and community outreach needs we are at capacity and we are seeking approval of a new position to help both Fire and EM,” noted the EM presentation to city council on Jan. 13, adding that the “(N)ew position is critical in supporting both the fire and EM programs moving forward.”

The estimated cost to the city for the additional position is $65,000 — net of potential grants from funders — and would be decided over the next few weeks as the new city council delivers its first municipal budget.

There is a clear need for additional capacity and support, according to the two programs. Since EM’s inception 2019 and hiring of its first coordinator, the program has lost three coordinators due to work load and other job opportunities.

“Building an EM program from the ground up is a very large undertaking and results in staff being overwhelmed and unsupported,” the EM presentation explained. “The loss of each coordinator sets the program back significantly as hiring and getting familiar in new roles takes a long time.”

Last year the EM program hired what is now its fourth coordinator, John Topolovec.

“We can’t continue to operate the same model and expect different results; we need to support our staff to set them up for success and this new shared executive assistant position is what EM and Fire need.”

 

Why now?

• Modernization of provincial EM legislation (increased responsibility for local authority) increased likelihood of response (emergency events are more frequent and severe);

• Current positions have assumed so many roles; limiting ability to complete essential projects;

• Depth of program impacting Nelson EM’s ability to be a leader for small municipality’s emergency programs;

• Challenged to meet strategic goals in an appropriate time frame;

• Plans and procedures require regular maintenance and review; and

• Both departments are at capacity.

Source: Emergency Management presentation, Jan. 13

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