COLUMN: Why Nelson needs a paid fire department

From Nelson city councillor Robin Cherbo....

The new year continues with budget deliberations for all city departments. Many issues come under more scrutiny such as our protective services, fire & rescue, police and bylaw officers. The Nelson Police Department has reached a bargained agreement for the first time in recent memory, but if our fire fighters do not get a negotiated agreement it will be going to binding arbitration.

The police and fire departments cannot go on strike because according to provincial legislation, if an agreement is not reached between the parties then the dispute goes to binding arbitration. While not a perfect situation, the city and council do not have a choice if an agreement is not negotiated. It has to go to binding arbitration under the Community Charter.

Some people are concerned with the cost, but there are many reasons to have a paid fire & rescue department in Nelson. City property insurance is less with a paid fire department. There have been two serious fires in Nelson over the last few years that our fire department was able to respond immediately. The Red Fish Grill fire next to the Bank of Commerce could have resulted in the loss of the north end of the block, including Wait’s News and the Hume Hotel, without superb action by the Nelson fire department personnel. If the department had to call in volunteers a worst case scenario might have occurred.

Also, as indicated in a recent article in the Star, Nelson is in the top ten lists of the cities at risk of wildfire in BC. This year the wildfires in Fort McMurray and in Tennessee show how fires can advance at a rapid pace leaving little time to evacuate an area or city.

Having a fire department at the ready with an evacuation plan and the personnel on hand ready to execute the evacuation plan is essential. A number of rural fire departments have volunteers who are paid for training, but sometimes it is hard to recruit volunteers and a lot of them have other jobs, so it can be difficult for them to respond fully in a timely manner.

As in hospitals and emergency rooms that must staff for “what if something happens?” there always needs to be the personnel to cover emergencies. Unfortunately all protective services are expensive, but people in an emergency situation do not question the cost when they need the immediate help.

Fortunately, the summer of 2016 was fairly moist, but that may not be the case in 2017. While deliberations continue with the budget discussions, and bearing costs in mind, there is always a need for our paid protective services to keep our city safe. So with that in mind, best wishes for a happy New Year to all the city staff as well as the general public.

 

Just Posted

Nelson municipal candi-dating returns for anniversary event

Citizens can talk directly with council members about their first year in office

Nelson Hydro seeks customer feedback prior to rate review

A new rate design application will be submitted to the BC Utilities Commission in 2020

GREG SCOTT: Nelson area raises $642,000 in final Victory Loan Campaign

From the archives of the Nelson Daily News in 1919

Peter de Groot inquest scheduled for May

Inquest will be held in Rossland

VIDEO: Canadian allergists’ group wants Benadryl behind the counter due to side effects

Some doctors say the medication is over-used because of its easy availability

Yelling at your dog might hurt its long-term mental health: study

Researchers find dogs trained using negative reinforcement are more ‘pessimistic’

Vancouver Island soap company releases Lucky Lager beer soap

Beer-infused olive oil soap comes out just in time for holiday shopping

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

Community uses loophole to paint 16 rainbow crosswalks after B.C. council says no

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

Workers’ camp at LNG facility in Kitimat takes shape

Extensive worker camp now being assembled

Former B.C. youth pastor guilty on one of five sexual assault allegations

Judge cites reasonable doubt in finding Cloverdale couple not guilty of majority of charges

238 and counting: Vancouver gelato shop sets Guinness World record for most flavours

Vince Misceo has come up with 588 different flavours over the decades

Killer who fled to Taiwan day after shooting B.C. man over $80 sentenced 13 years later

The sentence comes 13 years after Shaoxin Zhang, 19, was killed in a Burnaby parking lot

Most Read