Vernon prepares for wildfires

The risk of wildfires has Vernon ramping up resources.

City council voted Thursday to place career and volunteer firefighters for specified shifts at the Predator Ridge and Okanagan Landing halls.

“We are trying to mitigate some of the high-risk fire behaviour,” said Mayor Akbal Mund, adding that having staff at the two halls will lead to a quicker response if a wildfire occurs.

“We want to be proactive and get ready.”

For the next four to five weeks, there will be two full-time career firefighters and two volunteers at the two stations from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Full staffing levels will be maintained at the downtown fire hall so about $79,000 will be required for additional firefighters at the other two halls over 35 days.

“This will dramatically increase the response time for an initial attack,” said Brent Bond, Vernon Professional Firefighters Association president.

“We’d like to thank council for this decision and administration for its work with the association.”

The union recently called staffing and response times into question and urged the city to have unionized members at one of the stations outside of downtown.

But Mund insists council’s decision Thursday is only based on the current wildfire threat.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with staffing on a regular basis at the Landing and Predator Ridge halls,” he said.