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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Nelson joins protests against racism, police brutality

The protest was similar to those being held throughout Canada and the United States

Game on? Nelson sports organizations wait and see

Nelson Baseball Association has already scrapped its season

RCMP: 93% of inspected boats on Kootenay Lake don’t have safety equipment

Weekend inspections found a high number of boats that don’t comply with national regulations

Temporary rail trail detour will allow upgrade to Nelson’s water source

City will be laying a water line between Stanley Street and Mountain Station parking lot

Water quality advisory issued for Nelson

Run-off has created a high level of turbidity in the city’s drinking water

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Help the Nelson Star continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Black Press is now accepting donations to keep its papers operating

189 homes in Grand Forks area given evacuation orders

Homes are in the Nursery, Grand Forks Airport, Gilpin Rd., Johnson Flats and Granby Rd. areas

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson says he’s heard no concerns from public

Most Read