I must take offence to some of the comments I am reading and hearing on television from the OK Landing firefighter representative.
Specifically that lives will be endangered by switching to the Vernon Fire Department model. This is pure fear mongering, and patently not true! If anyone thinks for one minute, that if all the Landing firefighters resign, there will be no fire coverage in the Landing, they are most assuredly wrong.
Vernon will see to it that the Landing is adequately covered, either with full-time or volunteer firefighters, who likely will be staying at the Landing hall.
The issue is over training. Yes, the Landing volunteers are trained. Are they trained the same as Vernon? Do they make themselves available to train with Vernon?
Firefighting is a constantly evolving job.
Then there is the issue of The Rise fire. I do not profess to know the reasons why OK Landing was not immediately paged out, but as an ex-volunteer firefighter, I know that the policy when I was in was to send the full-time guys first, and if more manpower was needed, to page the volunteers.
Why? Only one reason – money. Once you page, everyone who gets that page and responds, gets paid. Now money is a really lousy reason to not page out everyone, but in today’s world it is the way things are done. It is the taxpayers who guide this policy by not wanting their taxes to rise.
The captain on the Vernon truck has policy to follow, and his hands are tied.
This is also the reason that the Landing department does not do Medical First Responder calls, as everyone would have to be paged, not just the three to four members needed. If there is a motor vehicle accident, involving rescue (the only time the Landing will respond to a possible medical emergency), everyone is paged, although often very few members are actually needed.
Lastly, I would like to speak in favor of Vernon’s paid firefighters. I work with these people regularly (no, I am not a firefighter, or a member of the Vernon Fire Department) and they are a very professional, well-trained and competent group.
There seems to be some stigma with these members being based out of the Landing hall. Having them in the hall will not only give a more rapid fire response for the Landing area, but would also provide a more timely medical first response for the Landing, including areas like Ellison Park and the Outback, as they would no longer have to come from downtown.
They currently respond to all calls in the Landing area anyway. This could save lives! There would still have to be volunteers to provide the manpower needed on a large fire.
The training would be seamless, as everyone would be on the same page. Also, as taxpayers, the citizens of Vernon already pay for full-time firefighters through their taxes. Last I heard, the Landing was part of the City of Vernon. Does the Landing pay different taxes than the other citizens of the city?
I do not profess to know all the reasons for the problem that has arisen. I think the issues we are hearing publicly are not the real reasons this is happening.
I am sure that the issues are many and varied, but do not use fear mongering to win your case. No lives will ever be put in jeopardy.