Okanagan Indian Band Volunteer firefighters are assisted by Armstrong Spallumcheen during a grass fire in late July.

Okanagan Indian Band Volunteer firefighters are assisted by Armstrong Spallumcheen during a grass fire in late July.

OKIB grass fire sparks Armstrong billing discussion

Band will not receive invoice from Armstrong Spallumcheen Fire Department for help in extinguishing summer grass fire on band land

The Okanagan Indian Band will not receive an invoice from the Armstrong Spallumcheen Fire Department for help in extinguishing a summer grass fire on band land.

The fire department was dispatched to a grass fire on July 30, 2013 at a location they were told was “behind the (Spallumcheen) golf course at Head of the Lake Road on Highway 97.”

Fire chief Ian Cummings told a joint Armstrong-Spallumcheen council meeting that he was in command riding in a tender and that he spotted a large plume of smoke from that general area as he travelled down Otter Lake Road.

“Upon arrival, I found the fire to be on OKIB land,” wrote Cummings, who stated he requested an engine and tender to state at Highway 97 at St. Anne’s Road.

The OKIB had one truck and four members in a field of tall grass and Cummings estimated the fire to be nearly four hectares in size and heading toward the Desert Cove subdivision.

“A change in wind direction would have sent the fire into Spallumcheen,” said Cummings.

“I found the incident commander from OKIB and confirmed that they required assistance.”

Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper confirmed that Cummings followed protocol and phoned him, asking for permission to help with the fire.

“With the help of members from BX Swan Lake (department), we had the fire extinguished in 1.5 hours,” said Cummings.

In his report to the councils, Cummings noted that the Fraser Valley dispatch paged out the Armstrong Spallumcheen department with information they received that the fire was “in or beside the Township of Spallumcheen lands,” and that OKIB never requested aid but accepted the help when offered.

Cummings said it was in his department’s best interest to assist before the fire grew out of control and advanced into the township.

“Our costs were minimal as we were already on scene and the members are paid for two hours,” said Cummings.

Armstrong council voted unanimously with Cummings’ recommendation not to bill the OKIB for their response.