Economy has effect on available firefighters

Finding firefighters for a couple of areas of the city is getting tougher.

Finding firefighters for a couple of areas of the city is getting tougher.

Salmon Arm Fire Chief Brad Shirley gave his annual report to city council recently and one of the issues he referred to is the difficulty finding volunteers in Canoe and Gleneden.

Gleneden is the most difficult, he said, noting it’s made up of large acreages with not a lot of young people on the farms. He said some firefighters started out in Gleneden, but have since moved. While the fire department prefers people who live in an area, it will also look at daytime response – where people work, Shirley said.

“It’s not cast in stone.”

One other trend has been the departure of younger members who have been taking leaves of absence in order to go work in the north. When they return to town, it’s difficult for them to return to the fire department, he said, because they often have other demands and commitments.

Currently there are 71 firefighters, remaining consistent with last year. Four new recruits will complete their training in December.

This year there have been 203 calls for service, which is comparable to last year in number and type of calls.

“The property dollar loss is very similar,” he said.

With firefighter safety a number-one priority, Shirley noted there have been no significant injuries to Salmon Arm firefighters.

The dispatch service out of Surrey is working very well, he said, and a change is in the works to move from a telephone line to an Internet feed.

Assistant fire chief Jim Nickles continues his safety work, trying to get between 400 to 500 businesses, care facilities and schools to develop pre-fire plans. So far only about 70 are completed, Shirley said. He explained that the plans aren’t so much evacuation plans as they are a source of information about things such as the location of hazardous chemicals on site.

As for the interface between wildfires and populated areas, Shirley said the department recently received a sprinkler protection unit from the Shuswap Emergency Program which will be shared between Sicamous, Malakwa, North Shore, Salmon Arm and Silver Creek.



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