New fire engine, more firefighters drive Kelowna property tax increase | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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New fire engine, more firefighters drive Kelowna property tax increase

A water tender in Kelowna Fire Department's Enterprise Way fire station.
December 11, 2017 - 8:30 PM

KELOWNA - A request for another fire truck and twelve more firefighters is the driving force behind this year’s proposed 3.59 per cent property tax increase in Kelowna.

The request by the Kelowna Fire Department is based on the need to keep up with surging call volumes which have increased by 10 per cent each year since 2014.

Outside consultant Dark Horse Emergency Response, hired to review the fire department’s 2016-2030 strategic plan, concluded the quickest and best way to improve fire response in Kelowna is to add another engine and 12 firefighters at the main fire station on Enterprise Way.

The request is worth about $1.4 million and makes up 1.59 per cent of the proposed 3.59 per cent property tax increase for 2018.

Dark Horse analyzed three years of call data, using it to develop a spatial forecast for call growth through the year 2030.

Kelowna Fire Department measures two responses; the response time of a single vehicle to a medical call and the effective response force, the time it takes to assemble enough firefighters to begin suppressing a fire.

Most calls still come from along the Highway 97 corridor and adding a new unit and more firefighters to Enterprise Way would provide a bigger bang, improving effective response force rates by 13.5 per cent to 87 per cent of locations reached within 12 minutes in urban areas and 18 minutes in rural areas. First due response rates would improve by two per cent.

Beyond that immediate need, the consultant also concluded the location of a new fire station was better positioned in North Glenmore somewhere near Watson Road rather than the intersection of Glenmore Road and the yet-to-be-opened John Hindle Drive, a connector road to Highway 97 at UBC Okanagan.

While the new fire station is supposed to be built by 2030, Dark Horse cautioned if call volumes continue to increase as they have, it could force the need for a new station at an earlier date.

With medical calls making up 65 per cent of total call volume, Dark Horse said educational efforts should be made to reduce that number by focusing on retirement homes and other high-volume call generators.

To contact a reporter for this story, email John McDonald or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

Council will consider the budget request on Thursday, December 14 in Kelowna council chambers.

News from © iNFOnews, 2017

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