Editorial: Is any publicity good publicity?

Lack of volunteer fire fighters a big issue in rural Sooke

Fire insurance, you have to have it if you have a mortgage. It’s expensive for many homeowners, but you have to consider what you would do if your home was destroyed by fire. The threat of fire is pretty small in Sooke.

The recent press release on potential fire insurance rate increases sent out by Fire Chief Sorensen and Mayor Wendal Milne was ill-conceived and put a lot of stress on some homeowners. Poorly worded – yes, misinformation – yes, fear mongering – unlikely.

Some of the media took this and ran with the story as though it was fait accompli and trumpeted the sad tale on their pages. Rumours ran rampant through Sooke and people were up in arms.

The mayor has taken responsibility for the press release and the ensuing commotion. The fire chief has tried to smooth the ruffled feathers and explain what he really meant. Basically what went wrong is a few words were scooped up by the press and they ran with it. The situation is that Sooke needs more volunteer fire fighters, just like every other community in the country. Sooke is different than some municipalities in that we are a bedroom community and most who could volunteer or would like to work out of Sooke and commute. To say that employers would be reluctant to allow an employee to respond to a fire is asinine. Most employers in Sooke and elsewhere would be proud to have a volunteer fire fighter on their staff – or they should be.

It appears this mess has created a surge in interest in volunteering as a fire fighter. So there is some good that has come from a big mess. It’s just too bad that Sooke had to look bad in the process and residents had to worry about escalating costs for fire insurance before explanations were forthcoming. Maybe the district needs a communications officer?