Mayor Evans responds to fire department needs

In response to the “Divergent views on fire department needs” article in the Wednesday, April 20, 2011 Sooke News Mirror, I offer the following comments:

Fire Underwriters Survey are an organization that evaluate the fire protection capabilities of fire departments all across Canada. These surveys are generated every 15 years to determine the requirements for the fire department. The information obtained in these surveys is used by insurance companies to determine the risks associated with fire protection in each community and to set the fire insurance rates for home and business owners.

One of the key items reviewed is obviously fire apparatus.  To meet the current PFPC (Public Fire Protection Classification) that Sooke holds, we require two certified pumpers in Station 1, one certified pumper in Station 2 and one reserve or spare unit. Certified pumpers must be less than 20 years old to receive credit and a reserve unit cannot be older than 25 years of age.

Current Sooke Fire Department apparatus include a 2006 ladder/pumper combination truck, a 2002 pumper truck, a 1999 pumper truck and a 1985 pumper truck.  The 1985 unit no longer meets the requirements. In addition it needs approximately $30,000 worth of maintenance and repairs.

The current capital budget has earmarked $250,000 to replace this truck with a new certified mini-pumper or alternatively we are looking at a full sized used six-year-old pumper for the same price.

At no time has the Sidney Fire Department or any other fire department been contacted or asked to purchase this old fire truck.  Nor has any other fire department expressed any interest in purchasing this truck. In fact, Sidney Fire Department just took delivery of a brand new pumper truck at a price of approximately $550,000.

The current Sooke Fire Department reserve, 26-year-old truck does however qualify for antique vehicle plates, so it may make a nice parade vehicle.

As for some additional concerns that have been expressed by members of the public regarding Sooke Fire Department’s response to the Langford tanker crash in Goldstream Park this past weekend and the costs that Sooke taxpayers will face as result, the facts are as follows:

Sooke Fire Department responded as part of our current mutual aid agreement with Langford Fire Department.

Sooke Fire Department is part of the Capital Regional District Regional Haz Mat Team.

The nine Sooke Firefighters who attended the call and were on scene for a combined total of 84-man hours did so as volunteers and were paid no wages or any other compensation to attend.

The actual cost of material used by Sooke Fire Department at this incident (absorbent booms and spill gear) will be reimbursed to the District of Sooke.

As these types of incidents are fortunately very rare, the opportunity to respond and the experiences learned will be invaluable if something similar were to occur in our backyard.

We would hope that in the event a similar incident occurred in Sooke that the other fire departments in our mutual aid areas would respond in our time of need.

In light of the reports that the Sooke Fire Rescue Service is out of control with its budget, we did some comparisons with other local fire departments of similar size and make up.

These are all departments with a mostly volunteer contingent, but have some paid firefighters.  Most of the numbers are for 2011 but Central Saanich is from 2010.

All of this information is readily available on the municipalities’ websites.

 

Dept: View Royal FD        Budget: $964,431.00        Population: 8,800        Cost PP: 109.60            Volume: 500

 

Colwood FD           Budget: $1,377,600       Population: 15,470       Cost PP: 89.50           Volume: 450

 

Langford FD

Budget: $2,212,000

Population: 24,000

Cost PP 92.16

Volume: 1,200             + an additional $466,900 for their dispatch centre  +19.45

Total: 111.61

 

Central Saanich FD

Budget: $1,185.000

Population: 14,000

Cost PP 84.64

Volume: 800

 

Sooke FD

Budget: $820,034

Population: 11,000

Cost PP: 74.55

Volume: 800

 

Salt Spring Island FD

Budget: $2.400,000

Population: 10,000

Cost PP 240.00

Volume:700

 

Respectfully submitted,

Mayor Janet Evans