In response to the reader who submitted the picture of the fire department water tanker assisting EPCOR in flushing a sewer line, I would like to point fire departments respond to more than just fires. Does the police department only respond to murders or bank robberies? Does the ambulance only respond to heart attacks or strokes? Does search and rescue only respond when someone is missing or lost?
The answer is ’no.’ These are routinely called “public assists” and, for fire departments, can range anywhere from turning off someone’s water because they had a pipe burst; to the iconic rescuing of cats out of trees.
I find it sad that between April 8 and April 12 the volunteers firefighters contributed over 350 hours of their personal time serving the community at structure fires, multiple car accidents and more medical assistances than we care to remember. Was their any mention of that? The answer, sadly, is also ’no.’ To put that into prospective, since the mayor and council are still working on their budget: Using the District of Sooke’s CUPE rates for casual workers, that amounts to almost $10,000 worth of wages saved in one week, or nearly $500,000 a year.
Perhaps in the future people will consider just how important volunteers are to the community and exactly what a fire department does before they start making ignorant assumptions.