Chief hopes pay hike will recruit volunteers

A raise in pay may help recruit new members to the Armstrong Spallumcheen fire department.

A raise in pay may help recruit new members to the Armstrong Spallumcheen fire department.

Armstrong council unanimously agreed to a request of the joint city and Township of Spallumcheen councils by fire chief Ian Cummings to consider a rate increase, as the Armstrong Spallumcheen department is among the lowest paid when compared with communities of similar size.

“One of the reasons Ian brought this up was his concern about the low membership,” said Armstrong Coun. Paul Britton. “They’re losing members, members are getting older and retiring, and there are not a lot of younger guys coming in.

“Not that wages would solve everything, but he thought if they were at least comparable to other communities, it might help bring people in.”

Armstrong council voted on an option to increase the recruiting rate to $15 in 2012, with all other rates increasing in proportionate basis to current rate increases.

The 2012 average hourly rate will be $17.36.

If all factors remain the same, the move would cost the city $4,021 for the year, and $5,434 for the township.

Spallumcheen still has to vote on the matter.

City council also voted unanimously to include a two per cent annual increase from 2013-16, and, because some of the volunteers are losing money from their jobs when they’re on a fire call for less than an hour, council also voted unanimously to a minimum two-hour minimum call out for firefighters.

In 2009-10, the Armstrong-Spallumcheen Fire Department was out on calls for a total of 654 hours with some of the calls being more than an hour in length.