Fire Department Activities Q1 2018

Cobourg’s Fire Chief Mike Vilneff gave his first quarterly report to Council on Monday.  The department has been getting busier each year but he did not ask for more staff – current staff levels are published online – see “About Us” link below.  Currently the Cobourg Fire Department consists of a Fire Chief, a Deputy Chief, a Fire Prevention Officer, an Emergency Planner, an Administrative Assistant, 12 full-time firefighters and, at full complement, 16 volunteer firefighters. The immediate staff concern is that 3 captains will be retiring in the next 12 months. Mike spelled out what jobs the Department does – firefighting, fire prevention services, public fire safety education, automobile extrication, medical assist, confined space rescue, hazardous materials response, water rescue and industrial accidents.

Then he gave statistics from 2015 to the end of March 2018.

Activity Statistics

Year 2018 YTD 2017 2016 2015
Fires 6 23 26 35
Automatic Alarms 1 13 9 24
Accidental Alarms 20 24 18 12
Carbon Monoxide 6 44 53 44
Leaks/Spills 8 21 33 42
Cooking 4 26 17 19
Burning complaint 1 5 3 9
Medical Assist 265 910 644 726
Vehicle Accidents 22 107 96 56
Assist other Agencies 10 31 23 25
Call Cancelled 8 20 20 11
Other Public Assistance 16 109 147 147
Total 381 1395 1158 1215
Training Activities 57 233 223 225
Prevention Activities 97 518 468 565


Fire Chief Mike Vilneff
Fire Chief Mike Vilneff

2017 was the busiest year in the history of the Cobourg Fire Department with respect to emergency responses. As of the end of the 1st quarter, responses are 10% higher than 2017.

In response to a question, Mike explained that his department works well with the EMS people – in fact, the medical calls they go to are the ones that the EMS people want them to attend.

(Photo at right was from an event late December 2017 – see link below)

It is intended that this type of report will be presented to council every quarter – this is a step forward in transparency but I wonder if it could be expanded to include an update on performance to budget. 

Another item of interest would be an expansion of “Prevention activities” to show how many buildings were inspected.


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Miriam Mutton
6 years ago

Interesting article on CBC news site based on interview with Ottawa area fire official and the challenges fire services face with many modern materials used in home construction these days. For example, spray foam insulation when heated burns at the same rate as gasoline. And, many home furnishings and personal items are composed of synthetics which can turn into something dangerous when burned and inhaled in gaseous form.

As for the cost of maintaining a well equipped and trained fire service, it is not unlike having adequate insurance … just in case. Keeps the community and the service providers safer.

6 years ago

There are no “Volunteer” firefiighters in Cobourg. They are paid. They should probably be referred to as “ Part Time”.

In response to the issue of medical assists, quite frankly I say hire more paramedics and scale back the equivilsnt number of firefighters. I had occasion to call 911 for a medical emergency and a bunch of firefighters showed up and stoood around in bunker gear until an ambulance arrived.

In order to save some municipalities in the future from bankruptcy over the cost of emergency services we need to tear down the existing silos of delivery created by empire building and protectionism.

Walter L. Luedtke
6 years ago

Yeah well!
Mention ‘Fire and Rescue’ and you get the usual Pavlovian reaction from our hard-nosed bottom line folks: empire builders and denizens of the sunshine zone.
I would like to quote an article about what our tax money buys, apart from a fit and highly-trained group of pros.
“This is life, and loss, and tragedy. This is insomnia, and injury, and depression. None of us gets through it unscathed. None of us expect to. Some of us will not get out alive, and we know all too well that the someone could be us.
So we protect the public from whatever misfortune comes their way, and put out their fires, and tend their wounded, and keep them as safe as we can. We pull the dead from the car wrecks, and cover the bodies at fire scenes so the news cameras won‘t bring the horror into the nation‘s living rooms. We protect our people from more than just the physical; we keep them from knowing the truth.
The truth is ugly, and devastating. People will tell us that they can imagine how horrific it was for us, but they will never, in a million years, really imagine the depth of that horror.”
And btw in the US, more firefighters die of suicide than in the line of duty.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
6 years ago

Although not directly on the same topic,perhaps if this same quoted rationale /recognition was applied to the well being of the armed forces,there wouldn’t be the same disgraceful disregard by the government /lack of public interest and knowledge.
They’re out of sight, out of mind and taken for granted ….until needed .
Do we read /hear about public concern re that ? Crickets !
Kipling’s poem “Tommy” applies !

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Bill Thompson
6 years ago

Agree totally, Bill!

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
6 years ago

Today is ‘Workers’ Memorial Day’.
You may want to have a look at this article in The Guardian:

6 years ago

If either of you are suggesting costs are out of line OR the CFD is over-staffed, you’ll need to give your heads a shake…increased population, the age of the Cobourg population, increase in traffic in and around the community (ie. 401), increase in mental health issues in Cobourg, increase in drug use and addiction related concerns, mutual aid agreements, etc, etc, etc… Keep in mind Cobourg Fire response to more than fires and issues occur 24x7x365 and therefore the station must be staffed effectively at all times….

Walter L. Luedtke
6 years ago

A few years ago, the CTA raised the Issue of the ‘High Cost of Police and Fire Protection’ and promised “we will be lobbying provincially and locally”.
Has this been done?

6 years ago

Do we have another Empire Builder in Cobourg with our Fire Department. I would love to see a side-by-side comparison of personnel, activity, full cost incl. benefits & pensions etc. with the same statistics from Pt. Hope. I bet the stats would surprise most of the homeowners in Cobourg…especially the EMS visits for both town fire depts. If you remove the EMS, false alarms and other assists there isn’t much left for 16 full time and 16 volunteer firefighters to handle…and how many of these are on the Sunshine List?

Sparky the dog
Reply to  Dubious
6 years ago

If you ever need these guys I’m sure you’ll appreciate the fact that they don’t have to drive across town before they can even think about getting to your place.

Reply to  cornbread
6 years ago

The Cobourg fire dept. budget is approx. $3,000,000 a year…compare this with Port Hope at approx. $1,500,000 a year.

If this is the truest $ figures I can get…Cobourg does overspend by a long-shot