qathet Regional District (qRD) board approved the addition of a regional fire services administrative assistant position at the February 25 regional board meeting.
According to a media release, the regional fire services administrative assistant position will aid the qRD’s four fire departments by assisting in the logistics of purchases, facilitating joint training and aligning record keeping and file retention procedures. The shared regional fire services administrative assistant will provide the qRD with the opportunity to leverage economies of scale while reducing redundancies and duplications in each fire service, the release stated. The end product will be enhanced regional collaboration and improved service delivery, according to the release.
Manager of emergency services Ryan Thoms stated that in the last 10 years, the qRD has conducted three fire services reviews. Each review resulted in a recommendation that the fire chiefs required greater administration support, the release stated.
“Our volunteer fire chiefs take on a considerable workload,” stated Thoms. “On top of responding to emergencies, fire chiefs must also maintain volunteer firefighter personnel records for all training, call-outs and volunteer honorariums and health benefits. Fire chiefs are also responsible for purchasing firehall and fire truck supplies, equipment and apparatus, and must schedule equipment and facility maintenance.”
By the authority in the Fire Services Act, the office of the fire commissioner (OFC) has established standards of training and reporting required for fire services personnel in British Columbia. All fire departments must meet the minimum standards for the service levels established by their respective authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), regardless of the size of their fire department or the community they serve, the release stated.
Chief administrative officer Al Radke stated that the addition of an administrative assistant has not come lightly.
“Whereas a village or town need only allocate administration resources to one fire department, our situation is compounded and must contend with four,” stated Radke. “As the AHJ, the qRD has an obligation to manage risk and exposure of its fire departments effectively. This new position is the most practical choice to benefit and protect the interests of the AHJ, namely the qRD, as well as the taxpayers.”
Regional district board chair Patrick Brabazon stated that by helping reduce the pressure on the four fire departments and their respective fire chiefs, the volunteer emergency responders can focus on vital, life-saving work, while striving for operational compliance and improved service efficiency.
The release stated that ensuring that each of the fire departments meet training and reporting standards, in accordance with the OFC, is paramount to the safety of residents in the entire region.