Congratulations to our North Thompson politicians and fire chiefs, plus the staff at Thompson-Nicola Regional District, for persistently pushing for a co-terminus fire protection service for the Valley.
This project has been at least 25 years in the making, but it now appears that it finally will begin to produce fruit. During that time there have been a number of tragic fires involving structures outside any designated fire protection area.
Given the distances and necessary time delays, there are no guarantees that those tragedies could have been avoided if the proposed co-terminus strategy had been in effect.
Many people, especially those recently from an urban environment, mistakenly think that, if they have a fire, the fire department will come to help them, no matter where they live.
This is not the case. If you live outside of a designated fire protection area and your home catches fire, chances are you will be on your own. Depending on the circumstances, the Forest Service might or might not show up. However, their mandate would be to keep the fire from spreading into the adjacent trees. They are not set up to fight structure fires and certainly are not trained or equipped to enter a burning building to do a rescue.
The proposed co-terminus fire protection service would not be as good as having a firehall down the street, but it would be a good second best.
Let’s say your workshop catches fire. The firefighters might not arrive in time to save the building, but they might be able to prevent the fire from taking out your house as well. Similarly, if someone is trapped inside a burning building, there is no guarantee the firefighters would be able to save him or her. On the other hand, without the proposed fire service, it is an absolute guarantee that there would be no one on the scene trained and equipped to do the job.
The proposed co-terminus fire service would have a modest cost and potentially big rewards. Whether it goes ahead or not depends on whether those living in the areas affected (and those who own property there) will sign their names on the petition calling for the service.
We encourage all those concerned to consider the alternatives carefully before making up their minds.
Keith McNeill is the editor of The Times in Clearwater.