June 02, 2016 - 8:00 PM
PENTICTON - Firehalls in the South Okanagan and Similkameen with soon be alcohol free zones.
Directors voted in favour of a staff recommendation to introduce the regional district’s alcohol policy to all of the firehalls at a board meeting today, June 2.
The move comes after a similar motion failed to pass in 2011. Since then, the policy of whether or not to allow alcohol in firehalls for the social use of firefighters when off duty has been left to the discretion of individual fire departments.
Directors were almost unanimous in voting in favour of the policy, with Area “G” Director Roger Mayor opposed, calling the recommendation draconian. He favoured consultation with the firehalls, noting Keremeos had a hard time attracting members.
Emergency services supervisor Dale Kronebusch said the regional district had undergone a consultation process in 2011, but this time had only sent an advisory to the departments of the impending recommendation.
Chief Administrative Officer Bill Newell said the recommendation would represent “a big change for some departments," adding in many cases it would be easier on the fire chiefs to have the policy dictated to them by the board.
“I think we’re past the stage of encouraging our employees to break the law,” he said.
"This is a no-brainer," said Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes, noting the Oliver Fire Department now takes out a special occasions liquor license and has a non-drinking duty crew in place for social events.
Four of the regional district’s firehalls will be affected by the policy change, including Keremeos, Okanagan Falls, Kaleden and Anarchist Mountain. All fire departments will now have to obtain a special occaision permit in order to have alcohol on the premises.
The policy is expected to come before the board for final approval at the June 16 board meeting.
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