By David F. Rooney
An in camera meeting after last week’s Council meeting ended with Councillors voting unanimously to make the Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services “a full-service-operations level fire department with a training program to match,” City Hall announced on Thursday, December 17.
However, this does not mean that the service’s volunteers are going to become full-time professional firefighters.
“We’re really just ensuring that we’re compliant with the expectations of the Province of BC’s Fire Commissioner,” Councillor Trevor English, chairman of Council’s Security Committee, said in a brief interview after City Hall released a statement announcing the behind-closed-doors decision.
Last year, the Fire Commissioner established a set of Fire Service Minimum Training Standards (often referred to as ‘the Playbook’) that require Council to declare their firefighting service level for their communities. The full-service levels are defined as Exterior Operations, Interior Operations on small structures and Full-Service Operations on any residential, commercial or industrial structures.
English said in an interview that the new standards were set after the death on December 29, 2011, of Enderby Firefighter Dan Botkin, 25, who had just returned home to the community after working in Alberta and had recently been married. A fire broke out at 4 am that afternoon at Sperlich Log Construction. Botkin was killed in the second of two explosions during the volunteer fire department’s efforts to control the fire.
“We train our volunteers to basic firefighter levels,” English said. “We will be implementing the additional training (in line with the Fire Commissioner’s playbook) to bring them up to professional standards. That new training will cost the City about $60,000 to get everybody up to par.”
Mayor Mark McKee said in a statement announcing the in camera decision that “Council spent considerable time reviewing the service level options available” before making up its collective mind.
“Safety of the residents of Revelstoke is a high priority for Council and based on the service provided today, hazards and building types, within our community, full service makes the most sense,” he said
Training for the volunteer firefighters Full-Service Operations standards will happen over the next three years.
By David F. Rooney