It has been three years in the making, but the Town of Creston and Regional District of Central Kootenay have approved a fire services agreement that will extend coverage to Arrow Creek.
“The time involved has been frustrating, especially for town and regional fire chiefs, who came up with this proposal years ago,” said Mayor Ron Toyota. “But we also have a better document to work with — the chiefs and staff have done some great work to provide clarity in how fire protection will function in much of the Creston Valley.”
An appendix to the new contract binds the town and RDCK to jointly maintain a minimum number of firefighting personnel so that adequate response can be expected throughout the designated fire protection area. It also defines what equipment will be provided at each fire hall in the area. The agreements are designed to be offsetting, so that no additional costs are created.
“I think the details are where the great work by the chiefs and staff really shine,” Toyota said. “It is now very clear how fires in each area will be responded to.”
For example, in an appendix to the agreement, for a residential fire in Erickson and the Area C contract area, response to a first alarm will come from two engine companies (groups of firefighters) from the closest available fire hall, three tender companies from the closest available fire hall and one command vehicle. If a second alarm is sent out, another engine company and a rescue company will respond.
Creston Fire Rescue Chief Mike Moore told town council earlier in the month that work is now being undertaken with the regional dispatch centre so that response to a fire in any area covered in the area will be co-ordinated as per the agreement.
“It will take a few months to make the necessary changes, but everything should be in place by the end of summer,” he said.
“Our goal should be to provide the best levels of fire protection we can throughout the Creston Valley,” Toyota said.
The Kitchener area is currently working toward a fire protection service. A referendum will be held in West Creston this fall during local government elections; a formal petition to extend fire protection to area residents passed by only a narrow margin in the winter.
“This is a good day for everyone involved,” Toyota said as he signed the Automatic Aid Fire Protection and Emergency Response Agreement on June 17. “It shows what can be accomplished when local governments co-operate in the best interests of taxpayers.”