toronto fire department

Fire crews in Toronto are taking much longer to help low-income neighbourhoods

New data shows that Toronto Fire Services (TFS) take much longer to respond to emergency calls in low-income neighbourhoods in the city compared to more affluent areas. 

The Star analyzed TFS data and found that, between 2020 and 2022, the department had much slower response times in areas of the city such as Flemingdon Park and Black Creek. 

The analysis looked at over 425,000 emergency calls across the city's 150+ neighbourhoods.

"Neighbourhood improvement areas" (NIAs) and "emerging neighbourhoods (ENs) are usually comprised of more low-income, racialized, and immigrant communities, and the data shows that response times in these areas are trailing behind. 

The fire department, which uses a metric called "total response time," only met its goal in 70 per cent of incidents in Toronto's 33 NIAs and 10 ENs. In other areas not categorized as NIAs or ENs, the fire department managed to meet its target in 80 per cent of cases. 

In comparison, the department met its total response time target in 77 per cent of incidents on a citywide scale. 

Ten neighbourhoods in Toronto saw the department hitting its target between 32 and 49 per cent of the time. Some of these areas include Elms - Old Rexdale, Thorncliffe Park, Morningside and Humber Summit. 

The fire department has been attempting to address these issues in the past by strategically distributing trucks throughout the city.

TFS is also planning to hire over 50 new front-line staff every year for the next three years, and looking to build new fire stations in more disadvantaged communities. 

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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