Draft of new Fire Services Mutual Aid Agreement underway
By Erin Knutson
City of Fernie council Dec. 9 moved to renew the development of a Fire Service Mutual Aid Agreement with Baynes Lake, Jaffray, Elko, and Hosmer Volunteer Fire Departments.
A presentation was given to council by Director of Fire and Emergency Services Ted Ruiter on the recommendation, outlining the agreement between Fernie Fire Rescue and the volunteer fire departments.
“In Mutual Aid Agreements, two or more local authorities have resources to share and agree to do so under specific circumstances. For instance, adjacent communities with fire departments often agree to help each other in larger emergencies,” said Ruiter as he read from the report.
Concerns over competing resources between communities were brought forward for discussion by youth councillor Aislinn Dressler.
“If Fernie’s fire services are in Baynes Lake, will it affect response time for Fernie residents?” she asked.
Ruiter addressed her concerns stating that resources allocated to the volunteer fire departments were at his discretion, and he could withhold aid provided it would disrupt the maintenance of adequate supports in the Fernie response area.
“Yes, it would, but obviously, I have the sole discretion to decide whether or not we go to assist. If we are out there and something significant happened in Fernie, I also have the discretion to pull my resources back to make sure we had a suitable response in Fernie,” he said.
The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) was at the helm of the request, supporting fire departments within the regional district by acting to cement the Mutual Aid Agreement between the communities with its latest addition, Elko.
Following the drafting of the agreement, it will be brought forth for discussion and approval at the Jan. 14, 2020, regular council meeting.
“The agreement would support the City of Fernie’s core values by increasing corporate and public safety as it would be enhancing our emergency response if our internal resources were exhausted,” said Ruiter.