Most North Okanagan communities will soon be dialing up a new service to report fires.
The North Okanagan Regional District board has approved a contract with the Fraser Valley Regional District to provide fire dispatch, likely starting March 2.
“All of the interaction we’ve had with Fraser Valley has been professional,” said Ron Baker, NORD’s protective services manager.
“I have a great deal of confidence in them. They have a lot of experience.”
The service will cover Coldstream, Lumby, BX-Swan Lake, BX-Silver Star, Spallumcheen, Armstrong, Enderby and those parts of rural Enderby and rural Lumby that have fire protection.
NORD issued a request for proposals for providing fire dispatch earlier this year after Vernon stated it was leaving the regional function so it could focus on infrastructure enhancements it requires.
Baker says Fraser Valley has access to the latest in technology and upgrades to the program are already being considered.
Fraser Valley dispatchers have been provided with maps and a list of geographical and community names so they are familiar with the North Okanagan.
However, Spallumcheen director Will Hansma believes NORD should have continued with Vernon providing dispatch.
“If there is a call, I want to make sure there are no delays because they (Fraser Valley) don’t know where we are,” he said.
“If there is a fire on Pleasant Valley Road, we could have three different fire departments go out because there are three departments that deal with Pleasant Valley roads (BX, Vernon and Armstrong).”
Vernon did not submit a formal bid to provide the service, and Herman Halvorson, NORD chairperson, says Fraser Valley’s proposal made sense financially.
“It’s going to be an excellent service. We’re going to save money,” he said.
Halvorson added that there should be about $50,000 in savings a year.
The contract calls for the Fraser Valley Regional District to be paid $31,500 during the first year of the contract.
The City of Vernon is providing dispatch until Fraser Valley comes on board.