Vernon firefighters will help with wildfires if asked

Council gives unanimous approval should VFRS personnel and equipment be asked to support

If asked, Vernon Fire Rescue Services will be helping with the provincial wildfires.

Vernon council unanimously gave approval to deputy fire chief David Lind’s request for provision of VFRS resources to help the provincial response to the wildfires at a special council meeting Wednesday morning.

“Should a request for assistance arise, the response would consist of an engine or tanker and up to six members at a time, depending on the need and resources available,” said Lind.

The resources can be deployed for six-to-14 days at a time. He said the first cycle of firefighters added to the fight is just ending, meaning local resources could be shipped in a few days if asked.

The call for help could also come in the middle of the night.

Lind said VFRS would only send resources when there is enough strength to maintain services to the City of Vernon.

“There is increased pressure on remaining resources to absorb the workload of those sent to help in other jurisdictions,” said Lind, using Monday’s condominium complex fire off Alexis Park Drive as an example.

“That fire was all hands on deck. We may have lost the entire structure if we’d had resources deployed elsewhere.”

While he voted in favour of the request, Coun. Brian Quiring selfishly admitted he didn’t want to send any local help to fires around the province.

“We get a fire at Silver Star, we get a fire at Predator Ridge…there are other provinces available (for firefighting help),” he said. “We’re going to need help here. We’re one cigarette butt away from an inferno.

“If we were in a lower extreme condition I would say send whoever you want. But right now, not a chance. How would we ever explain to someone that lost their house to a fire in Vernon that we sent some of our resources to Williams Lake? I’m looking out for No. 1.”

Coun. Scott Anderson praised Lind for doing due diligence in his plan.

“All things being equal, we’re still safe and we’re contributing to places that our worse (than Vernon),” he said.

Coun. Juliette Cunningham said there could be a time in the future when Vernon needs support from around the province.

“We always try to minimize the risk to our local citizens, but I think being jealous of our resources right now may impact us potentially in the future,” said Cunningham.

“This is an extraordinary situation that we have in the province. We feel we’re kind of in a difficult position but I don’t see how we cannot offer that because we could be in exactly the same position at any time, actually.”

Should the province ask for support, said Lind, the city will be updated at the earliest opportunity.