The District of Peachland has been presented with a laundry list of recommendations on how to make its fire department a better and stronger team.
Should council decide to adopt some of the recommendations, the changes will benefit Peachland for at least the next 50 years, according to district staff.
During a meeting on Sept. 28, council was given a presentation on some changes the fire department could make to improve service.
Behr Integrated Solutions said they have conducted firefighter and community surveys to find out what the community’s priorities and fire risks are.
One of the company’s representatives Jeff Carlisle pointed out that some of the issues that need to be considered in Peachland’s case are its geography and topography: a town right by the lake and built on hillsides, he said the steep terrain is something to account for.
The dangers of interface fires during wildfire season as well as spring freshet flows are two others.
One of the main concerns, however, is relocating the fire station. The station is currently located at 3rd Street and Carlisle pointed out that for where it is located (in a cul de sac with a lower speed limit and other traffic calming measures), the department’s response times are good, averaging at about 12 minutes for every call.
However, response times can be better if the fire hall is relocated. In fact, the district has been working on relocating the fire hall for the last two years. The new location is proposed to be on 13th Street.
The current fire hall is small, cramped, with no designated changerooms.
The second concern is only having the fire chief as a full-time position. Behr is recommending that the district consider having a full-time assistant chief to help current fire chief Dennis Craig, who is often the only one on staff when the department receives after-hours calls.
“Your fire chief does an exceptional job for the district. Not only is he your fire chief, he’s your risk manager, safety officer, he responds to all the emergencies,” Carlisle said.
“In (Behr Integrated Solution’s) opinion, this is not sustainable over a long period of time, particularly the after-hours calls where he’s the only full-time person and he’s responding to everything.”
Some of the other recommendations presented include consideration for a work experience program, a more consistent and streamlined training program, and assigning specific crews to be FireSmart educators, among others.