It was refreshing to see, in your July 18 edition, positive coverage regarding Sooke Fire Rescue Service.
Mayor Milne’s article about the value of the fire department volunteers was encouraging, despite the concerning picture he paints for the residents of Sooke, who depend on the fire department for help in a variety of emergency situations.
In contrast however, the past several years have seen the evolution of a pattern of negative coverage and opinions, ranging from ill-informed to seemingly malicious, regarding Sooke Fire Rescue Service – much of it disseminated via editorial opinions and Letters to the Editor in these very pages. A bruised reputation – from my experience, greatly unwarranted – within the community is the unavoidable result.
Any organization facing repeated public challenges to reputation can be expected to struggle in efforts to recruit new members. Potential volunteers can be influenced by one-sided information they read, dissuaded by a desire to avoid affiliation with such a reputation, or simply uninterested in the prospect of being harangued in the media each week.
Regardless of what Mayor Milne plans to change within Sooke Fire Rescue Service, the most important change needs to come from without. Until council takes a leading role in correcting published misinformation, standing up on behalf of their fire department to unwarranted attacks, and more publicly supporting Sooke Fire Rescue Service, I suspect that they will encounter continued difficulty in finding sufficient volunteers willing to be put on trial each week by the very community they protect.
Mayor and council would be well advised to commit to continued public support of the fire department and to protect its reputation when coverage and/or published opinions are incorrect and damaging.
I would venture that these actions would help them see the increase in volunteer numbers that they need.