Fire chief proposal sparks debate

Calls for a paid fire chief in Coldstream were back on the political radar, briefly.

Calls for a paid fire chief in Coldstream were back on the political radar, briefly.

The Coldstream Fire Department has requested a paid fire chief to oversee operations of both the Lavington and Coldstream halls.

The debate over the issue was re-ignited at a recent technical advisory committee, after one councillor demanded the issue deserves more thought and attention.

Coun. Maria Besso had hoped her colleagues would consider budgeting up to $20,000 in the 2012 budget deliberations for a fire department strategic planning, exercise, and report.

“It got soundly defeated,” said Besso. “I tried, that’s all I could do. At least the council was open to discussing the issue.”

A report was done on the departments by Firewise Consulting in 2010 and it states: “We recommend that as a long-term goal, the District of Coldstream appoint one fire chief over both fire halls who then appoints a deputy or district fire chief at each fire hall.”

Yet council does not feel a full-time chief is the best option right now.

“We have taken steps to address concerns about the demand on volunteers’ time and will continue to address the issues through the fire department liaison committee,” said Coun. Doug Dirk.

“Last year we allocated funds in the budget to pay for work needed that was above and beyond the normal duties of the fire hall executives and are continuing to work with them to lighten their load.”

Coldstream fire chief Dave Sturgeon isn’t sure how the district, not being in the ‘fire’ business, can help alleviate the work load.

“I believe the only way to go is have one chief for both halls to unify the district and have both departments operating in the same fashion,” said Sturgeon, adding that perhaps a part-time paid chief could be started with.

“It is long overdue, if you look around the province departments way smaller than ours have gone this route because the writing is on the wall.”