May 01, 2014 - 4:41 PM
KELOWNA – Volunteer firefighters stationed on Enterprise Way in Kelowna are being redeployed to more rural areas Monday, according to Kelowna Fire Chief Jeff Carlisle.
Calling it a reorganization, Carlisle says the move comes after a review of the utilization showed 89 per cent of calls received are within the city’s permanent growth boundary.
“Career firefighters will protect, as an initial response, the more populated high-risk areas. The paid on-call will provide initial response to the rural areas because they can get there first,” he says.
Volunteer District Chief for Stn. 1 Rick Jennen says the change means some volunteers will have to travel further to reach their stations, but volunteer firefighters will remain on-call 24 hours a day and continue to be paid the same hourly rate for time spent at calls and during training.
“All we did was readjust where our paid on-calls are stationed,” Jennen says. “Some of the guys at the new hall are closer than they were before and some are further away. Response time to the scene isn’t going to change whatsoever.”
There are currently approximately 60 volunteer firefighters based out of either Stn. 1 on Enterprise, Stn. 7 in East Kelowna, Stn. 8 in Glenmore or Stn. 9 in McKinley.
Six of the 18 volunteer firefighters at Stn. 1 have already been on loan to Stn. 8 in Glenmore for more than a year and Jennen says the remaining 12 will be redeployed to Glenmore and East Kelowna next Monday.
“Because (Glenmore) has been very light on manpower we had two choices,” he says. “One is to recruit and train new volunteers and the other is to send some of my guys out.”
Jennens admits to feeling reticent about the change when it was first discussed 18 months ago but says he is now convinced it is the right thing to do.
“I’m approaching it the same way I approach a fire scene,” he says. “When something changes, you have to change your tactics accordingly. We’ll look at it six months from now and reassess if things are getting better.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014