Decision won’t save money

Resident calls into question Vernon's cancellation of a contract with Landing firefighters

I am appalled at Vernon council’s decision to not renew the contract with the Okanagan Landing Volunteer Fire Department.

Although the decision itself is a bad decision, I take particular exception to the way it was made behind closed doors with no public warning that the issue was being considered.

Why would council make such a decision in secret? Obviously, so residents of the Landing have no opportunity to rise up and object before the final decision is made as we did when this issue last reared its ugly head. How anti-democratic and contemptuous of the public served by the OLVFD. Shame on Vernon city council.

Regarding the decision itself, some members on council seem to think this decision will save the city money. All I can say is that whoever believes that doesn’t really get what is happening regarding fire services in Vernon.

Killing off the OLVFD is a necessary step in the process that will lead eventually to staffing the Landing fire hall with paid firefighters.

The two firefighters per shift, times the five shifts required to cover 24/7, plus a captain, will cost more than $1 million per year when it happens and it will happen.

It won’t happen this year or next, maybe not even in three years, but it will happen. Politicians come and politicians go but the bureaucracy just keeps pushing the agenda forward. It will happen and when it does, the theoretical $60,000 savings will look pretty pathetic.

I also note that this decision was made by council without even knowing what chief Green’s contingency plan for dealing with mass resignations of Okanagan Landing firefighters is or what it will cost.

That seems like a pretty major oversight. Again, council’s decision seems to have been made based on incomplete information.

Perhaps if the matter had been public prior to the decision, some councillors may have spoken with some members of the OLVFD. They would have heard many stories that seem to indicate the Vernon Fire Department pushing this agenda several years ago.

They would have heard numerous stories of Vernon dispatch delaying call-outs to the Landing firefighters or ordering them to stand down when they are almost at a fire.

I gather that council has been told that there needs to be integrated management of fire services and a closer working relationship between the Vernon and Okanagan Landing halls. Well, from what I’ve heard, it seems to me that the problem is not with the OLVFD.

In my opinion, city council has made a bad decision based on an incomplete understanding of the issue and even then, the vote was a 4-3 split. I sincerely hope council has the sense and the goodwill to step back and reconsider this matter before it is too late.

Ed Devlin

Vernon