Policy Set for Volunteer Fire Fighting Service Level
Prince George, B.C.- The Regional District of Fraser fort George has adopted a policy which outlines what level of service various volunteer fighting departments can offer.
The policy will bring Volunteer fire departments in the Regional District into compliance with the Fire Services Act which requires local authorities to declare, in writing, the fire operations Service Levels for the fire departments for which they are responsible.
Currently, all Regional District fire/rescue agencies are classed as providing a service level of Exterior Operations. No agencies have met the training standards for Interior Operations service level.
On the surface, the policy looks as though a volunteer fire department is only allowed to attack a fire from outside a structure. But Regional District Fire Services Coordinator Melanie Perrin says that is not necessarily the case “We are seeing a big shift in fire fighting tactics” says Perrin. The tactics see firefighters focusing on the exterior first “knocking the fire down from the outside at first, prior to doing an aggressive interior attack. That’s born out of a priority for safety concerns for first responders”
While all of the Volunteer Fire Departments in the Regional District are approved for “Exterior Operations” fire fighters can enter a building under certain circumstances “That is, if a room has contents that are on fire or an item fire ( example would be a fire in a couch, or on a stove) firefighters could still enter under those circumstances and they could still enter after the fire has received initial knock down and I guess, when I look at that in my experience in the fire service, we wouldn’t be entering until the initial knock down was conducted anyway, so you’re probably going to see a lot of business as usual.”
She says there are options to increasing training levels to bring volunteer fire departments to a full “internal operations” level, but adds ” There are a few factors we need to consider before going down that road. There are training requirements and there’s also more pre-planning required. So any fire that’s more complex than a single family dwelling would require comprehensive pre planning and pre-plans. It’s not unattainable but we want to be careful we don’t set our standards beyond what we have achieved currently, otherwise we would be in non-compliance. Certainly if a department manages in the next two months to change that service level we would be looking to update the policy and change any department that wants to move in that direction. From a Regional District and regional coordination stand point, we are bringing in training in the fall with regards to team leader training and other courses that are affiliated with the interior ops level so if a department wants to change their service level, we are going to give them every opportunity to take courses locally and in the Valley (Robson) as well to give them lots of local opportunities.”