Professional firefighters could be at the Predator Ridge hall during special events or emergencies.

Professional firefighters could be at the Predator Ridge hall during special events or emergencies.

Vernon fire chief given authority to mobilize resources

Professional firefighters could be moved out of downtown hall to satellite facilities

Vernon’s fire chief wants to be prepared for an emergency.

On Monday, city council gave Keith Green the ability to deploy professional firefighters to any of the fire halls if required.

“From a practical standpoint, I have to move the fire department forward to protect our citizens,” he said.

Currently, volunteers are largely present at the Okanagan Landing and Predator Ridge halls and professional firefighters from the downtown hall respond to those areas if needed. Under the new program, staff firefighters could be stationed at the satellite halls during special events or high-risk periods.

“It’s a normal operational procedure in most communities with multiple stations,” said Green.

Enhanced powers for Green were unanimous among council.

“If you have two firefighters in the Landing, the response time will be improved,” said Mayor Akbal Mund.

However, Mund insists that use of professional firefighters in the satellite halls will be infrequent and not become permanent.

“If they were to become regular, there would be a cost and that would have to be put into the budget,” he said.

With the Fort McMurray wildfire dominating the headlines, Vernon residents are being reminded that emergencies can occur here.

“The fact is, assembling a kit of necessities, talking with one’s family and mapping out contingency plans are far easier to undertake before something happens,” said Tanya Laing Gahr, the city’s communications officer.

For more information, go to http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/preparedbc

“There you can find out the top 10 hazard risks in B.C., how to build an emergency kit and actions you can take in your neighborhood to be better prepared in case of an emergency,” said Laing Gahr.