News / Calgary

Calgary Fire Department plans to terminate contract with airport

Fire Chief Steve Dongworth says the airport authority needs to start paying the full cost of its specialized service

The Calgary Airport Authority has hired the Calgary Fire Department to provide emergency service on the runway, but the current contract has CFD losing money.

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

The Calgary Airport Authority has hired the Calgary Fire Department to provide emergency service on the runway, but the current contract has CFD losing money.

Calgary’s fire chief said they’re looking to renegotiate their contract with the YYC Calgary International Airport, and they’re hoping the airport authority will start picking up the tab for specialized coverage.

Chief Steve Dongworth told Calgary City Council that they’ve given the authority a year’s notice to end their contract to provide coverage on the runway.

“One of the challenges we have is (...) we’re subsidizing it and we want to remove that subsidy and get full cost recovery for our costs,” said Dongworth.

He said the coverage they’re looking to renegotiate is not for the airport terminal, which would be handled by residential fire crews. Rather, it’s the specialized crash trucks and crews which are trained to respond to a runway emergency that are in question.

He said one other problem they have is that the four-person crew they provide for these situations is too small.

“We’ve done some research recently of airports of similar size and activity, and we see airports with eight firefighters on duty at any one time,” said Dongworth.

He said they’re not looking to put eight people on at one time, but they would like to see more than four.

A spokesperson for the Calgary Airport Authority confirmed they received the termination notice from Calgary Fire department in late September.

In an email, the spokesperson said the Authority is in the process of identifying the options for the airside emergency response services for YYC Calgary International Airport.

Dongworth also told council he’s hoping to get more funding from the province for responding to calls on provincial highways like Stoney Trail – something he said other departments in the province already receive.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he hopes the fire department is successful in those negotiations.

“If they’re not successful, then a year from now council will be looking at a negative variance, and trying to figure out how to manage that," Nenshi said.

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