City of Powell River council has endorsed the qathet regional fire departments’ emergency services agreement, which provides for efficient sharing of local fire department resources in major incidents.
At a special council meeting on September 9, councillors voted unanimously in support of the agreement, which provides for endorsement of the existing agreement for another five-year term.
Councillor Maggie Hathaway said this is a long-standing agreement between qathet Regional District (qRD), Tla’amin Nation, City of Powell River, and Gillies Bay and Van Anda improvement districts.
“Effectively, it’s a mutual aid agreement for when fire departments require assistance from each other,” said Hathaway. “These fire departments all work very well together, they train together and have become a very cohesive group, so I’m quite happy to approve this agreement.”
Councillor George Doubt said the agreement can be of use to all of the fire departments in the region, including the city fire department, in an emergency situation.
He said as an example, there are forest fires in the BC Interior and until recently, he owned property in Logan Lake.
“They were able to call on 22 different fire departments to come when there was an evacuation alert,” said Doubt. “The fire actually burned up to the back fence of my property there, but it was protected by the emergency agreements with the province and mutual aid agreements like this, so they are good to have.”
According to a report from qRD manager of emergency services Ryan Thoms, the agreement is based on the premise that no single local fire department will always have enough resources to respond to all potential major emergency incidents within its jurisdiction. He stated, however, that additional resources or specific equipment or skills may exist within any one of the other seven neighbouring fire departments within this region.
“This agreement establishes the process by which any local fire department resource may be requested and made available to the responsible fire department within the local area impacted by the incident,” stated Thoms. “The expectation is that the providing party will provide the requested resource unless circumstances within its own jurisdiction at the time of the request dictate that it is unable to supply the requested resource.”