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Standardization of regional fire departments goal of master fire plan

FILE PHOTO - Keremeos and District Firefighters battle the Keremeos Hotel fire in this July, 2014 photo. The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen recently put forward a Request for Proposal as it seeks to find a contractor for its fire master plan for the regional district's seven fire departments.
November 02, 2016 - 9:48 AM

PENTICTON - The South Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District continues to move forward with plans to standardize the seven fire departments it oversees.

Community services manager Mark Woods says the district has been slowly working towards a standard for a number of years, having already established radio communications standard as well as a remuneration model for firefighters in the region.

The regional district has issued a $50,000 request for proposals for a regional master fire plan for its seven fire departments which include Naramata, Kaleden, Okanagan Falls, Willowbrook, Anarchist Mountain, Keremeos and Tulameen.

It’s hoped the successful proponent will be able to provide further guidance to ensure all departments are providing a standardized, efficient operation that is cost effective and meets legislative safety standards. The regional district is also seeking ways to address other pertinent issues such as growing service needs in the district, along with the recruitment and retention of firefighters.

"We believe what is missing is a 'road map' for the board, administration and the fire departments to follow together, in order to achieve a standardized model that addresses current issues and the needs of the firefighters. The master plan will outline the challenges being faced,” Woods said in an email.

Part of the request includes an examination of relationships between fire departments and their societies, all third party spending and a review of purchasing and operational guidelines.

Each department’s current mandate and their respective establishing bylaws will be reviewed to see if any changes are necessary. Adherence to the fire commission’s latest training playbook will be analyzed and implications and recommendations for any shortfalls will also be made. Training options, the use of an instructor pool by all departments and a review of current practises regarding retention, recruitment, recognition and incentives for members will also be looked at in the master fire plan.

Looking at the longer term, a review of each department’s succession plan and their respective fire protection boundaries will also be made, along with long term funding strategies.

The closing date for the request for proposals is Nov. 28. Woods says the regional district hopes to have the plan completed for presentation to the regional district board by May, 2017.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 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.

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