Regional District of Nanaimo has adopted a volunteer fire rescue service level policy which will see minimum training requirements for Extension and Nanoose departments set at exterior and interior respectively.
The policy takes its cue from the Office of the Fire Commissioner of B.C. Playbook, a provincial minimum training standards guide, and defines exterior operations as a service level where firefighters “shall not enter any building, vehicle, dumpster or other object if an immediately Dangerous to Life and Health atmosphere is present. It may only engage in external fire suppression.”
Interior operations involve situations where departments “may engage in internal fire suppression activities within simple structures or objects, such as vehicle, single-family dwelling or other small structures.”
“It’s a little bit complicated. It says at a minimum, you’re going to train to this level and based on the qualifications of the department, they can do whatever they can do. So when fire departments are called out, there are criteria how they can act based on the members … it’s just basically saying the minimum level service is going to be X,” said Geoff Garbutt, district general manager of strategic and community development.
Doug Penny, Nanoose fire chief, said it varies by department, but his can tackle exterior operations, depending on the number of firefighters. His is a paid, on-call department and there are no guarantees that there will be a full crew, which Penny said is defined as 10 members.
“We got all the training we need, it’s just because we can’t be guaranteed a full crew out to a call, so it’s all based on that,” said Penny. “If we had full-time members here then it wouldn’t be an issue. It’s the same level of training, it’s just that there aren’t people standing here waiting for when the call comes in.”
Penny said numbers vary, but if it isn’t a full crew, there is an agreement in place that will see other departments, including Lantzville, called in to assist.
Garbutt said the declarations will be reviewed when the district hires a new fire services coordinator.
The board also approved a job description for the position and Garbutt said the process to hire is underway.