Faulder and Meadow Valley Community
Volunteer Fire Brigade - paused
February 8, 2024 - Volunteer Fire Brigade - paused
Faulder and Meadow Valley citizens have clearly indicated no appetite to invest in a volunteer fire brigade. This is for a number of reasons, but hard costs (for a hall, brigade, equipment, truck), lack of infrastructure (hydrants), and water quantity were certainly among the top reasons.
The information from the December 2023 Update (see below) was provided to a citizen who requested information on setting up a volunteer fire brigade. I will leave it here for interest and reference. If there is a change and the community is interested in further discussion, please let me know directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact any of the RDOS staff listed below.
Call me any time at 250-488-0246 or email@example.com
January 2024 - Update
The fire break work (as you likely know) is provincial. I’ve received citizen feedback and have passed that along to the RDOS Emergency Service Manager, who meets with BC Wildfire regularly. Unfortunately, the RDOS has no jurisdiction over that work. For provincial matters, your MLA (Dan Ashton) should hear from the citizens he is voted to represent. His email is dan.ashton.MLA@leg.bc.ca
There may be mitigation funding opportunities for the RDOS, but that won’t be until 2025.
December 2023 - Update
In late 2023, a citizen emailed a request to explore establishing a volunteer or composite fire department in Faulder and Meadow Valley. Below is the information provided.
There are a few fire protection approaches to consider.
FireSmart is a great first step. A Faulder / Meadow Valley FireSmart event is being planned for spring. This direction (FireSmarting your own property) is getting the most provincial/grant support. Faulder/MV was a FireSmart community. That work happened in 2017. Mark Woods (contact info below) can advise if you are interested in the history and current status of the designation. The 2017 FireSmart report is linked below.
Training in S-100 for citizens
Kerry also investigated training citizens in S-100. From Kerry, BC Wildfire won’t provide the training to the general population, nor is the training supported by UBCM. However, I also hear that it might be changing. The communities could consider hiring a private contractor for training. Without the support of FireSmart or UBCM, it is unlikely that gas tax could be used to cover S-100 training for citizens. I’d have to confirm with Mr. Zaffino. I don’t imagine the cost would be onerous.
Fire Protection Audit
Mark Woods (Sr. Manager of Community Services) suggested that the communities could hire a fire protection auditor to help advise on the next steps. Advisement on what equipment is needed, how to set up a society, training, equipment acquisition, etc. could be helpful. I’d have to confirm gas tax eligibility for the assessment with Mr. Zaffino. Here is a company I found in West Kelowna that may be able to offer more information.
RDOS Volunteer/Composite Fire Department.
Fire Departments are paid for by citizens who benefit from the service through a service area. For example, the Naramata Fire Department is funded by those who live in Naramata and receive fire protection. The same would apply to a service area for fire protection in Faulder/MV.
Gas tax is eligible to support some equipment purchases, not ongoing operations.
Attached (see PDF) is a rough annual operations budget for a small to mid-size volunteer fire department. Operations are paid for through taxation.
The operation budget does not include the purchase of a fire truck (Apex Fire Department found a used one in the USA for around $200k CND).
The operations budget does not include building a fire hall. Apex Fire Hall is coming in around $5 million (paid for by long-term borrowing; Apex property owners will pay the debt back via property taxes).
There are 237 parcels (private and crown) in the Faulder/Meadow Valley (180 private parcels). Mr. Zaffino would need to determine property assessment values and define a service area to understand what this would cost each property owner accurately.
However, as a very rough estimate, 237 properties, all equally covering the $600,000 operations budget, amount to $2500 (approx.) per parcel. I would not recommend a parcel tax for a fire hall, but without easy access to property assessments, this number is to provide some context.
Community Volunteer/Composite Fire Department
From Mark Woods, there are local examples of very successful independent community fire departments. One is Erris Fire Department, and the other is Hayes Creek. From what I understand, both organizations have positively impacted insurance premiums and cost citizens substantially less than other similar-sized departments funded by taxation. It may be worth reaching out the Fire Chiefs, Chief Dave Springfield for Erris and Chief Rob Millar for Hayes Creek. Maybe they consult for communities looking for similar operations.
All of these initiatives require strong community/citizen commitment and leadership. If the area has the appropriate infrastructure (hydrants, water volume, etc.) RDOS staff can help with establishing costs. In the meantime, pursuing a few community initiative options simultaneously won't hurt. The community initiative ideas came from Mark Woods, who can answer any other questions.
RDOS Staff who can answer specific questions on the above.
Jim Zaffino, Chief Administrative Officer, and CFO firstname.lastname@example.org (budget considerations)
Christy Malden, Corporate Officer, email@example.com (service area establishment, legislative services)
Mark Woods, Sr. Manager Community Services (years of experience working with volunteer fire departments, oversees emergency response, FireSmart, etc.) firstname.lastname@example.org
Brittany Seibert, Interim Manager, Emergency Services email@example.com
Attached is the Faulder West and East Fuel Reduction prescriptions that were conducted around 2013. These were done in partnership with the Penticton Indian Band’s Forestry division and were the foundation for the fuel reduction.
2017 FireSmart Community Assessment Report