Vernon firefighters are trying to ensure every minute counts during an emergency.
Statistics from 2015 show that of the 2,299 call-outs, firefighters had a response time of six minutes or under 69.5 per cent of the time.
“Given how spread out we are as a community, I am pleased with that,” said Keith Green, fire chief.
There was a response time of six to nine minutes 18.2 per cent of the time, while it was 5.9 per cent for nine to 14 minutes and 3.7 per cent for 14 minutes or more. There were 60 cases with no response time.
In comparison, the response time for six minutes or under in 2014 was 68 per cent, with a total of 2,236 call-outs. There were 2,684 call-outs in 2013 and the response time for six minutes or under was 74.4 per cent.
“There is always room for improvement,” said Green.
“Because the community is geographically spread out, it makes it difficult to get to some areas.”
Green says response times could possibly be reduced by having firefighters reside at the Predator Ridge hall, where they could immediately tackle an emergency.
He admits additional firefighters would also help but says the department is also cognizant of the financial pressures facing the city.
Efforts are also being taken by the department to ensure residents protect themselves by promoting the use of smoke alarms.
B.C.’s Office of the Fire Commissioner reports that dead batteries were found in smoke alarms in 302 residential fires resulting in 39 injuries and seven fatalities from 2009 to 2014.
“They are startling statistics when you consider how easy it is to replace a battery or get a new smoke alarm,” said Green.