Fire chief earns award for technology, service

Being a techno “geek” can be rewarding.

That’s what Tappen/Sunnybrae Fire Chief Kenn Mount discovered at a recent Columbia Shuswap Regional District board meeting.

A volunteer firefighter for six years, two of them as chief, Mount received a $2,000 fire prevention award from FM Global, a large, international insurance company, and a certificate of appreciation from the regional district for exceptional fire prevention work.

“Your grant application for an FM Global fire prevention grant stood out among the hundreds we received and we will be funding $2,000 towards the purchase of training materials for fire prevention week and to provide training for one firefighter on GIS technology,” reads the letter advising Mount his application had been accepted.

“I think it stands out because we use GIS technology,” says Mount.

GIS (geographical information systems) is something Mount deals with on a daily basis as a computer programmer with Esri, a company that believes geography matters and applies GIS technology to many applications.

Understanding the technology allowed Mount to apply it to his job as a fire chief with impressive results.

Using the application to record data from 2002 on, Mount discovered a “huge cluster” of incidents between Kault Hill and the Tappen Co-op on the Trans-Canada Highway.

“We track all incidents in a geographical data base, and it shows some really interesting trends,” he says, of the cluster on the TCH. “We’ve responded to motor vehicle accidents, single-vehicle rollovers, care fires, cigarettes thrown out of cars…”

Using the GIS technology also allows firefighters to respond more quickly to any situation.

Three other GIS techs are also members of the Tappen/Sunnybrae Fire Department and Mount is looking forward to getting another firefighter trained as well.

“There’s an arsenal of computer geeks in that fire department,” laughs CSRD’s Fire Services Co-ordinator Jack Blair, who is hoping to extend the technology throughout the regional district. “Esri’s aware of Kenn’s role and its a way to give back to the community, by having his knowledge shared and he takes a lot of time out of his day job.”