Volunteer firefighters living in Sunriver will be able to get to fires much quicker with the establishment of a temporary fire department muster station.
At District of Sooke council on Monday night, council received a report from Fire Chief Steven Sorensen on the feasibility of setting up a muster station so the firefighters could respond to calls and actually make it to the fire. In the past the volunteers, who had to travel to the Otter Point Road firehall, often missed the trucks and were unable to attend the fire.
Chief Sorensen said this had a serious impact on volunteer firefighter morale. There are nine volunteers who respond and it takes them between nine and 15 minutes to get to the firehall.
“Nobody likes to volunteer and not get on the truck,” said Sorensen.
The fire department will move one of the existing utility vehicles to the Sunriver sales office parking lot. The truck and turn out gear will be housed in a temporary shelter. The shelter will be the existing fire house owned by the Sooke Firefighters Association. The report also states: “If deemed necessary the only potential cost would be a temporary shelter to protect the truck fro, the elements. A rugged duty 12×24 temporary carport is valued at approximately $1,000.
“There is no cost involved,” said Sorensen. “If it doesn’t work, we’ll unplug it and move it away.”
Issues of potential vandalism and liability were voiced by Councillor Bev Berger.
Mayor Wendal Milne questioned the effectiveness of the Saseenos fire hall on Goodridge Road.
“Are we saying the Saseenos fire hall is not a service to us?” asked Milne. Sorensen stated it was there for “insurance coverage.”
Ten potential sites were considered, with seven of the sites owned by the district, two by Sunriver and one by SEAPARC.
Council authorized the temporary muster station for six months. It will be given a trial period at no cost to taxpayers. Coun. Herb Haldane was opposed.
“This is not the first step in opening a fire hall,” said Coun. Kerrie Reay.
In the report to council Sorensen states: In order to retain these volunteers and possibly attract more members, a short term alternative is being proposed until such time as the fire station can be established.”
A 2009 survey in Sunriver showed overwhelming support for a fire station in the area.