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Vernon fire chief defends drafting bystanders to help fight blaze

Vernon Fire Rescue crews battle a house fire at 2809 35 Street in downtown Vernon on Saturday, May 3, 2014.
Image Credit: Contributed/Monte Erickson
May 09, 2014 - 12:24 PM

VERNON – Vernon Fire Chief Keith Green is defending not only allocation of resources in a recent fire caught on video, but also the Vernon Professional Fire Fighters Association's right to draw the public’s attention to it.

On Saturday, May 3, Vernon Fire Rescue was called to a house fire at 2809 35 St. A bystander recorded the action and posted it to YouTube.

On the video, the fire captain asks a couple of bystanders to help drag some hose to hook up to a water supply.

Union rep Brent Bond complained to Global Okanagan, saying “it puts us at a huge risk obviously and obviously the public at a huge risk as well.”

Bond says not enough fire fighters were on scene.

Chief Green says six firefighters were on scene within four to six minutes. Three crew members were on the fire truck, a fourth firefighter was fueling a truck and arrived soon after, plus two paid on-call members happened to be at the Muscular Dystrophy Walk at the People Place just around the corner.

“Any fire chief will tell you they’d love to have more resources and elbow their way into the city budget for more of the pie,” Green says.

What the video doesn’t show, according to the fire chief, is his firefighters preparing to protect the exposures, making sure the houses next door didn’t catch on fire.

“Obviously the house that we were called to is significantly involved. The flames were coming out the front windows,” he says. “The house couldn’t be saved. It was a defensive attack.”

He defends the captain’s spur of the moment decision to ask bystanders for help.

“I’ve been on many calls where the public has assisted us. People are always willing to help out. When your neighbour's house burning down, you don’t hesitate, you jump in.”

Green insists the people that helped out on May 3 weren’t in any jeopardy.

“In my opinion there were no safety issues here,” Green says. “They did the best they could with what they had which included asking members of the public to drag a hose down the road.”

As for Bond's complaints, Green feels he, too, is doing the right thing.

“It provided an opportunity for the union to raise awareness. They took advantage of it and rightfully so. That’s their right to promote safety for their members.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email Howard Alexander at halexander@infotelnews.ca or call 250-491-0331. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

- This story was updated at 2:26 p.m., Friday, May 16, 2014 to correct Brent Bond's first name.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
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