Safety is always critical, so the concerns coming from the Vernon Professional Firefighters Association aren’t surprising.
The union wants assurances that sufficient resources exist so its members and the public are not put at risk when a fire breaks out, such as the recent Arbor Lee apartment blaze.
“The city needs to prioritize emergency services above all else,” said Brent Bond, VPFA president.
The primary issue is the initial response to a fire, with both the city and the union disagreeing on the number of firefighters actually available.
For residents who foot the bill for the fire service, it’s difficult to know what the reality is, but perhaps that void in information will soon change.
Currently, city administration is working on a strategic plan for the fire service for the next five to eight years. Among those being consulted during the process are firefighters and council.
“The focus of the strategic plan is providing effective services to the public throughout the City of Vernon,” said David Lind, interim fire chief.
Hopefully, there is meaningful consultation where residents can learn the facts about the existing fire service, what is proposed, how safety could be improved and the financial bottom line. One of the outstanding issues will be whether career, full-time firefighters should be stationed at the Landing or Predator halls.
We would encourage residents to follow the process closely and to ask questions of the city and the union. After all, it’s the public that relies on the service to protect not only property, but lives.