It’s in the early stages yet, but East Shore area A director Garry Jackman has asked the regional district to consider extending the Riondel fire service boundary to Crawford Bay. The current boundary is the cutoff between Highway 3A and Riondel Road (at the junction).
For many years Riondel fire services has provided road rescue service well beyond the fire boundary. Jackman said it’s provided road rescue into Boswell—fire responders and motor vehicle incident response along with extrication tools.
Now they are looking at the fact that many of the providers of first responder and fire support for Riondel live in Crawford Bay.
“They now have fully trained level one members who live in Crawford Bay and Gray Creek and they can get to a satellite base very quickly so it’s an opportunity to expand,” said Jackman.
He said members can live in one community and still volunteer in another.
Riondel fire chief Cory Medhurst says they have decided to explore the idea of providing fire protection to more residents on the East Shore.
“Since we already respond to all other calls in Crawford Bay and beyond (up to Akokli creek for road rescue),” said Medhurst. “We figured it would make sense to also provide fire protection as far as we can.”
The Riondel fire services has 20 volunteers on the roster with 12 to 18 coming out for practices every Thursday.
“As a larger service, we would then be able to recruit more members, take on more responsibilities such as search and rescue (with water rescue), and provide more training,” said Medhurst.
Jackman said the request to the RDCK board to expand the area is in its preliminary stages and he doesn’t expect it to voted on until next year.
The new boundaries have yet to be determined exactly but it could mean faster response times for other communities on the East Shore. It’s not yet known if it will lower insurance rates or increase taxation and Jackman said these questions are exactly what the initial study is meant to determine.
He said the study would include “what boundaries make sense in order to provide a reasonable response time given the locations of volunteers, what the potential insurance benefits are (this impacts the effectiveness of the service and has a bearing on potential insurance benefits), whether the residents in the proposed area are likely to support the service, what taxation would be raised from the new area to support all new costs without having a negative impact on residents within the current service area and what additional equipment is needed to avoid diminishing the level of service in the existing service area.”
Jackman said although simultaneous fires are rare, they can occur in particular if there is a nearby forest fire. However, the RDCK has other means to reduce this risk such as the deployment of mobile sprinkler units.
He said the study is in response to various inquiries from local residents who believe it may be the right time to consider the service again.
Jackman said, “Some years back a different proposal to create a stand alone fire service was turned down by voters in the Crawford Bay area so I would like to ensure the most cost effective and efficient options are considered this time.”