The Nelson Fire Department is called to emergencies as first responders

The Nelson Fire Department is called to emergencies as first responders

City of Nelson looks for first responder pay

Nelson along with representatives from the Regional District of Central Kootenay attended the annual UBCM convention in Victoria.

Nelson along with representatives from the Regional District of Central Kootenay attended the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention in Victoria.

Mayor John Dooley, city council and staff were busy taking in meetings, panel discussions and debates on topics ranging from libraries, local government spending, tanker traffic off the coast of BC and fire department costs.

While topics like the decriminalization and regulation of marijuana made headlines, other issues caught the interest of Nelson delegates.

A resolution around compensation for fire departments when they are first responders to accidents and other incidents was one Dooley felt addressed concerns facing Nelson.

“It’s ironic but most communities especially in rural British Columbia are finding it a real challenge because their fire departments are answering calls that used to be covered by ambulance service,” he said.

The recent realignment of the  ambulance service and the restructuring of health care has meant there is not always an ambulance available as a first responder.

“Consequently our fire departments are having to respond to these accidents and there is no compensation for the work that we do,” said Dooley.

The resolution passed at the convention asked funding come from the provincial government or through ICBC when fire department act as first responders.

Before attending last week’s meetings, Dooley predicted resolutions around pipelines would also appear during the convention, and one example of this was a resolution around tanker traffic presented by the District of Saanich on Vancouver Island.

“The resolution was to put a moratorium on tanker traffic on the West Coast,” he said.

Dooley felt the resolution would be a “slam dunk” as far as being passed, but instead edged through with narrow margins.

“It passed 51 per cent to 49 per cent,” he said. “I think there needs to be a bigger discussion there, but many of the media outlets and pollsters seem to have their finger on the pulse of how people are really thinking as far as the well-being of their communities, employment, economic development and all those pieces are packed into that resolution.”