City not on dispatch radar

The Regional District of North Okanagan will attempt to negotiate a renewal agreement with the Fraser Valley Regional District

The City of Vernon could be bypassed again when it comes to fire dispatch for neighbouring communities.

The Regional District of North Okanagan will attempt to negotiate a renewal agreement with the Fraser Valley Regional District to provide dispatch for fire halls in Enderby, Armstrong, Spallumcheen, Lumby, Coldstream and the electoral areas.

“We’ve had a good relationship with the Fraser Valley and we want an opportunity to renegotiate,” said Rick Fairbairn, RDNO vice-chairperson.

Fairbairn says he is aware of no problems since Fraser Valley took on the contract in 2010. The agreement expires Dec. 31, 2014.

The City of Vernon, which was passed over for the service three years ago, recently met with RDNO officials in an attempt to win the bid for 2014.

“The presentation was well done and there were a lot of good points to add, such as emergency management and the fire training centre (which are operated by the city),” said Fairbairn.

Fairbairn says Vernon could be considered if talks with Fraser Valley are not successful.

Vernon Fire Department officials say they’re disappointed RDNO has not initiated a competitive bid process for dispatch.

“Having separate fire dispatch services for our area, Vernon and the Okanagan Indian Band, dispatched out of our station and the rest of the region dispatched out of Fraser Valley certainly creates operational challenges on types of incidents where our departments overlap,” said Keith Green, Vernon fire chief.

“Large-scale incidents where mutual aid is required presents difficulties when the responding departments don’t share communication systems.  We felt we could have provided a very attractive bid from both a financial perspective and an operational efficiency perspective.”

Prior to RDNO going to a request for proposals in 2010, Vernon made a proposal.

“While Vernon did not formally respond to the RFP, RDNO evaluated its proposal against those received through the RFP process and estimated that RDNO would realize annual savings in excess of $80,000 per year by selecting Fraser Valley,” said Ron Baker, the regional district’s community protective services manager.

Fraser Valley will be paid $34,000 in 2014.

“Participants in RDNO’s fire dispatch function pay less now than they did