A major step towards improved fire protection is in place for Okanagan Indian Reserve residents with 911, and efforts are continuing to enhance service.
The Okanagan Indian Band recently gained access to Vernon’s 911 fire dispatch, a major improvement from a previously antiquated system.
“Now that we’re officially 911, we want everyone to know that,” said Mike Doherty, OKIB Fire Department captain.
The department has been working towards 911 dispatch for 13 years, and up until now, residents had to call a separate emergency number to report fires. Such fires on band land were handled by an answering service established by the fire department.
Now the fire department is working towards becoming fully certified.
“It’s one big step to get us certified,” said Doherty. “But once we are certified, insurance goes way down.”
Gaining 911 dispatch was the first, and biggest, step towards getting a department certified.
The second step is gaining a water tender, and a proposal has already been submitted.
Thirdly, mutual aid agreements need to be in place with the Armstrong-Spallumcheen and BX-Swan Lake departments.
With the help of the OKIB, Doherty says plans are rolling along nicely.
The department is also looking at getting a satellite hall at the Head of the Lake by the medical centre.