COLUMN: Why Nelson needs a paid fire department

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

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. File photo.
MP Morrison calls Keystone XL permit cancellation ‘devastating news’

Kootenay-Columbia MP reacts to the Conservative Party’s removal of a controversial Ontario MP

L-R: Scott Robertson, Abigail Robertson, Caleb Bernhardt, Vijesh James and Oliver Marsh (missing) took part in the online Korean Consul General Cup. Photo: Submitted
Local martial artists win at online provincial tournament

Kootenay Martial Arts had five athletes participate in the Korean Consul General Cup

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

It was a quiet week for COVID-19 cases in the West Kootenay. Illustration: B.C. Centre for Disease Control
Two new cases of COVID-19 in Nelson area

The cases were confirmed for the week of Jan. 10 to 16

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Vaccine rollout is focused on health care workers first, especially those dealing with long-term care facilities. (Nathan Denette - Canadian Press)
General public shouldn’t expect vaccines until fall: Interior Health South Okanagan Similkameen

Interior Health focused on vaccinating long-term and first-line care workers

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Most Read