Local governments should recruit more firefighters as soon as possible, as many are overworked and underpaid, the New Power Party (NPP) said yesterday.
The national firefighter-to-
population ratio is 1:1431, the party cited National Fire Agency statistics as showing.
A firefighter has to serve an average of 1,779 people in Kaohsiung, 1,774 people in Changhua County, 1,651 people in Taichung, 1,620 people in New Taipei City, 1,582 people in Tainan and 1,497 people in Hsinchu City, the data showed.
The ratios are higher than the goal set by the Ministry of the Interior to lower it to 1:1300 by 2023, a goal that is “very difficult to reach,” NPP caucus whip Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) said.
Firefighters in Taiwan worked more than 300 hours per month on average and were not properly paid for more than 500 hours of work every year, he said.
The cap on overtime pay for firefighters has only increased by NT$2,000 in the past 22 years, he said, adding that instead of receiving compensatory leave, they are given commendations, which are “meaningless.”
He called on the ministry to set a reasonable cap for work hours and compensation for overtime work.
NPP Changhua County councilor candidate Cheng Yu-yen (鄭宇焱) said that the number of firefighters in the county increased from 696 to 703 from 2019 to July last year, which was “too slow and too few.”
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Changhua County commissioner candidate Huang Shiou-fang (黃秀芳) has promised to increase personnel budgets for firefighters if elected, Chen said.
Changhua County Commissioner Wang Hui-mei (王惠美) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), who is running for re-election, should draw up a detailed plan to increase the number of workers in the next four years, he added.
NPP Taichung city councilor candidate Wu Pei-yun (吳佩芸) said the city had the highest or second-highest number of fires in the past three years, questioning whether the rights of local firefighters are protected.
Although Taichung Fire Bureau Director-General Tseng Chin-tsai (曾進財) in June touted that the growth in the number of firefighters and improvement of the firefighter-to-population ratio in the city ranked first and second respectively among the six specialty municipalities, they are still insufficient, she said.
NPP Taipei city councilor candidates Chen Hui-min (陳志明) said that compared with New York, Tokyo and Singapore, where a firefighter has to serve 513, 731 and 925 people respectively, the ratio in Taipei — at 1:1356 — is not good enough.
He urged the city government to devise a concrete plan to increase the number of firefighters and create an occupational safety database, of which its occupational hazard data can be used to improve the safety of firefighters.
National Association for Firefighters’ Rights secretary Chen Yen-kai (陳彥凱) said that the official target of 1:1300 might not be enough to ease the burden on firefighters.
The National Fire Agency promised to implement the system of “one day on duty, one day off duty” by the end of the year, but it has not assisted local governments by proposing plans to increase staff, he said.
He called on mayoral and commissioner candidates for the Nov. 26 local elections to put forward concrete plans; otherwise, protecting firefighters’ health would just be an empty slogan.
VOTERS’ CHOICE: The DPP’s Chen and independent candidate Huang conceded defeat before 7:20pm, with Chiang pledging to remain humble and do his best Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) yesterday won the Taipei mayoral election, with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate defeating the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) pick, former minister of health and welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), and former Taipei deputy mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊), an independent. After polling stations closed at 4pm, the Taipei Election Commission issued a preliminary estimate that voter turnout in the city was about 64 percent, slightly lower than in 2018. Chiang, 43, is to be the youngest Taipei mayor ever, with the KMT regaining the capital after eight years. Chen had an exceptionally high national approval rating when he was head
In the last few days before the local elections on Saturday, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said it is focusing on 10 regions it considers highly contested areas, while the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said it is stepping up campaigns across the nation. The DPP considers Keelung, Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu City, and Maoli, Yilan, Nantou, Penghu, Changhua and Yunlin counties as areas where its candidates are facing fierce competition, a party source said. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Vice President William Lai (賴清德) and Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) plan to visit those areas again this week, the source said. The night before the elections,
A naval landing craft on Thursday sank near Kinmen County after wet weather and rough seas flooded its cabin, the Naval Fleet Command said. The vessel, called Landing Craft Mechanized 1326, had completed transport and replenishment missions in the county and was returning to Taiwan proper when surging waves flooded the cabin, the navy said in a statement. The craft’s five crew members tried to bail out the water to no avail, the Navy said. The landing craft eventually sank off Kinmen’s Liaoluo Bay (料羅灣) at 5:18pm, although all crew members rescued, it said, adding that the precise cause of the sinking
TOURIST HOTSPOT: The air charter services would drastically cut travel time to the world-renowned beach with its service to Caticlan, instead of Kalibo Royal Air Philippines is to launch next month direct flights between Taiwan and the Philippine city of Caticlan, a closer entry point to tourist hotspot Boracay. The airline will initially offer six charter flights between Dec. 26 and Jan. 15, with the flight frequency increasing to one per day during the Lunar New Year and winter holidays from Jan. 19 to Feb. 8, it announced at a news conference in Taipei yesterday. The charter flight services will drastically cut travel time to Boracay to about two hours and 45 minutes. Before the new route is launched, travelers from Taiwan who