What price would you put on our community’s fire security?

By David F. Rooney

What price would you place on our community’s fire security?

Fire Rescue Services has asked Council for permission to borrow enough money to purchase a new aerial platform truck to replace the existing 34-year-old Scot Snorkel Apparatus it currently has in inventory.

This truck is obsolete. It can’t reach higher than two storeys, which is one of the reasons that Revelstoke’s rating from Fire Underwriters has recently been raised from 5 to 7. The higher rating means increased fire insurance premiums for commercial, residential, governmental and institutional insurance clients.

Fire Chief Rob Girard said a new 100-foot aerial platform truck that had been used as a demonstrator will cost about $887,448 but will save the City money in the long run and reduce the community’s Fire Underwriters rating. He said could purchase a nine-year-old truck for $600,000 but it would have to be sold within 10 years and replaced. A new platform truck will last 20 years and ultimately will save Revelstoke taxpayers money. Buying a well-used machine for $600,000 sounds good until you realize we’d have to replace it twice (for a total of $1.2 million) before the new one’s useful life span is over. (Click here to see a number of different graphs in PDF format that Girard used to illustrate how a new truck could save Revelstoke money.)

However, Councillor Tony Scarcella questioned Girard’s assertions and claimed that Salmon Arm has a 16-year-old truck and hasn’t yet seen any problem with its insurance ratings.

Other Councillors like Phil Welock also disliked spending that kind of money. “It’s a tough pill to swallow,” he said. “We’re doing this because we are interested in saving lives.”

Councillor Chris Johnston said that despite some “skepticism I have faith that the chief and fire staff will fine tune this project.”

The community safety issue was the key issue for most councillors. Council voted to approve the request by Girard to borrow up to $915,000 to purchase the demonstrator 100-foot aerial-platform truck.

“This proposal takes it out for financing but there’s no need to borrow money until we have to write the cheque,” Mayor David Raven said.