FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – With news that the Peace River Regional District will be voting on if they should move fire dispatch services to Vancouver Island instead of keeping them in the Peace Region, the Fort St. John Professional Fire Fighters Association is saying they don’t think it would be a good idea.
When reached for comment by Energeticcity.ca, Matt Crompton, President of the Fort St. John Professional Fire Fighters Association says that his biggest concern is that the public isn’t being involved in the process.
“Right now, my biggest concern is that these decisions are being made in closed meetings and that it isn’t being made public for the Peace River Regional District tax payers to attend.”
He says as far as repercussions of having fire dispatch moved to Vancouver Island, there are centres that dispatch further out across the province, but size has a lot to do with those services staying in the Peace.
“Because of the size of our Regional District and the oil and gas traffic as well as un-named roads and those kinds of things. Having fire fighters that are in the Peace River Regional District dispatched to life and death emergencies by people who are over a thousand kilometres away in Vancouver or Campbell River, and who may not be familiar with the area or the dangerous goods that are transported on a daily basis for the oil and gas industry, can lead to delays in determining exactly where to send help, and even to errors where emergency crews may be sent to the wrong location.”
He goes on to say that it would be more cost effective to keep it local and that Fort St. John is prepared to perform regional dispatch.
“Meanwhile, the Fort St. John Fire Department has the resources and infrastructure in place to perform regional dispatch of the PRRD’s 11 fire departments with some of the newest technology and is ready to take on the larger role, and in doing so would save PRRD taxpayers millions over the length of the contract, compared to current costs, as duplication of services are avoided by not paying separately for fire dispatch in Dawson Creek. We hope the PRRD considers these facts when they make their final decision.”
In a press release sent out by the Fire Fighters Association, Crompton goes on to say that they support those fighting for the cause, most notably a local City Councillor.
“The firefighters support those such as Fort St. John Councillor Byron Stewart, who also advocates keeping fire dispatch at the Fort St. John Fire Department. Stewart is reminding residents that local dispatchers are better able to pinpoint exact locations quickly, and that the fire fighters respond not only to structural fires but many other types of emergencies such as motor vehicle accidents in the PRRD.”
Crompton says PRRD residents, who are the ones whose safety stands to be affected by the decision, should have a say in the matter. He urges residents to contact their Local Area Director on the PRRD Board to speak up on the issue and ask them to “keep it local” for public safety and tax savings.
The Peace River Regional District will be voting on the matter tomorrow morning at a Board Meeting in Dawson Creek.