City responds to PRRD Chair concerns over Fort St. John fire dispatch safety

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John has responded to the PRRD Chair who is questioning Fort St. John’s fire dispatch services safety level and the decision to move fire dispatch services to Vancouver Island.

A day after the vote was passed 7-5 to move the fire dispatch services, we have a little more clarity.

911 services in British Columbia are delivered in two parts:

  1. The Primary Safety Answering Point (PSAP) answers your 911 call and is your first point of contact in an emergency.
  2. The Secondary Safety Answering Point (SSAP) dispatches Fire, RCMP and Ambulance personnel.
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PSAP is currently answered in Prince George but will be moving to Vancouver with E-Comm.

SSAP is currently dispatched in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek for Fire Departments but that will be moving to North Island 911 located in Campbell River.

In the release sent out by the City today, they state that it would cost $140,000.00 more per year over 5 years to have the services stay in Fort St. John.

Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman as well as Moira Green who is Director of Strategic Services with the City of Fort St. John confirmed, The Peace River Regional District is going to be saving $1.5 million over 5 years by switching from Primary 911 answer services to E-Comm from Prince George which has left Ackerman and the City wondering why money would be a factor with second dispatch services.

Brad Sperling, Chair of the PRRD said the decision has nothing to do with money, but with safety as he told the CBC this morning.

“I had no problem with Fort St. John’s bid with their price point.  I had some concerns with some of levels of service and safety and those questions couldn’t be answered.”

The City of Fort St. John responded to Sperling this afternoon saying this was the first time safety was mentioned as a concern and that they have not received a request for more information from the PRRD.

“Brad Sperling, Chair of the PRRD has publicly stated that his decision was based on concerns about safety and service levels. This is the first time that any concern has been raised about the safety and service level provided by the City of Fort St. John Fire Department.”

The City of Fort St. John responded to the PRRD request for proposals on Fire Dispatch services by submitting a proposal to continue to provide SSAP dispatch services in August of 2016. The City has not received a request for additional information from the Regional District to address questions from directors regarding levels of service or safety.”

The Fort St. John Fire Department is currently only 1 of 2 professional fire departments in northeast B.C. The City says they have been providing these services for a long time.


“The Fort St. John Fire Department has been providing Fire Dispatch services under the current 911 system for more than 16 years and has provided dispatch services for more than 3 decades in total. The City of Fort St. John Fire Department has been serving the residents of the North Peace through the Rural Fire Protection Agreement since 1988.”

The City voluntarily adopted the National Fire Protection Association standards for the installation, maintenance and use of emergency communications systems (NFPA 1221) and voluntarily updated Fire Dispatch equipment during the construction of Fire Hall No 1. according to the release.

A report that was sent to the Peace River Regional District Board shows that: “Fire Dispatch exceeded the NFPA standard 1221”. The report stated that 95% of alarm calls that were received on emergency lines were answered within 7 seconds and 99% of alarms were answered within 8 seconds.

Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman said in the statement that she is “disheartened and disappointed.”

“I would like to express council’s pride in our Fire Department. These dedicated and professional people go above and beyond to ensure our safety. I am very disheartened and disappointed that a decision based on dollars is now being defended at the expense of the reputation of these dedicated people.”

The City goes on to say that provision of 911 services is the PRRD’s responsibility.

“Provision of 911 services is the responsibility of the Peace River Regional District; the PRRD has not provided safety or performance standards or recommendations for the provision of that service.”

As mentioned, Brad Sperling echoed his concerns this morning on CBC. You can listen to the interview below. (Credit: CBC).


PRRD Debate Video

Below is a video from the debate on Thursday January 12, 2017.

More information about this story

Regional District moves fire 911 dispatching to Campbell River

PRRD decision on fire dispatch unfortunate: Fort St. John Professional Fire Fighters Association

PRRD considering moving fire dispatch services to Vancouver Island, will vote Thursday

Fire dispatch Request For Proposals (RFP) to be started over


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