Rural fire service under scrutiny

NANAIMO – The Regional District of Nanaimo will spend $52,000 for a consultant to ensure rural area fire service delivery is up to par.

The Regional District of Nanaimo board will spend upwards of $52,000 for a consultant to ensure rural area fire service delivery is up to par.

The B.C. government originally released Structure Firefighters Competency and Training Playbook, a fire service minimum training standards guide, in September 2014.

Amendments took effect May 22 of this year and the regional district wants to make sure electoral areas are in compliance.

Directors voted in favour of a pair of related motions at their regular board meeting Tuesday night.

“In general, the issue is just around the fire services. More and more is being required of the volunteers, in terms of their time, their energy, training. It’s not like 20, 30 years ago where they practised. But now there’s this whole other level of requirement around regulations and that and so the volunteer firefighter, their job description is changing,” said Wendy Idema, regional district director of finance.

A consultant will be selected through a request for proposals and will work with regional district staff and fire departments to review the fire service support structure.

Of the $52,000, $7,000 will come from the electoral areas feasibility reserve and $45,000 from the provincial basic grant.

Recommendations made by the consultant to fire service levels and standards would be paid for through the 2016 budget process, Idema said.

Gabriola and surrounding islands (Area B) would not be included as they have their own fire improvement district, which the regional district doesn’t regulate.

According to the provincial playbook, June 30, 2016 is the date training levels must adhere to new requirements.