Firefighters from Vernon could be deployed to other areas of BC to help fight wildfires.
City council gave unanimous approval for that at a special meeting Wednesday, after getting assurance from Vernon Fire Rescue that the city would still have adequate staffing and equipment to protect the city should a major fire break out, such as Monday’s condo fire on 40th Avenue.
Photo: Acting fire chief David Lind speaks to Vernon council
“Before we deploy our resources, we’ll be doing a risk-benefit analysis and making sure that we do have resources maintained within the city of Vernon and within our mutual aid partners around the area, so we will minimize any risk in that way,” acting fire chief David Lind told Kiss FM.
Lind says there are pros and cons to providing provincial assistance, but he supports it.
“It’s responsible. It controls the risks. There are great needs in the province right now and we may need help from these other agencies (in the event of a fire here), so I think we need to be active participants in that, to the degree we can,” adds Lind.
Lind says up to six firefighters plus a chief or deputy chief, along with a water tender truck or fire engine could be deployed to a BC wildfire scene for 6 to 14 days, at the request of the province.
He says firefighters could be deployed as soon as today, if needed.
“We will provide the province with a list of the equipment and the numbers of staff that are available for deployment. Our staff will be preparing To Go bags, so they are ready to go on short notice.”
Council’s support was not without some discussion.
Councillor Brian Quiring was initially opposed to sending firefighters elsewhere.
“We are in the worst spot to be in in the province, being dry. I don’t want to send anybody. We are going to need help. We are one cigarette butt from an inferno. I don’t think we’re in a position to do this,” Quiring told his council colleagues.
However, after hearing the discussion and getting the assurances that the city and surrounding area will still be protected, Quiring changed his stance.
“I voted in favour of it because it’s the responsible thing to do. I put forward an argument just to make people think. We are in a high risk situation here,” Quiring told Kiss FM.
Councillor Juliette Cunningham led the motion to support provincial assistance.
“I just think it’s important that we take part in that. We never know when we may need to be the beneficiary of that kind of support and response. We live in an area that could potentially have significant fires as well. It’s the neighborly and responsible thing to do as British Columbia citizens,” says Cunningham.