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October 27, 2017 10:36 pm

New Rules in Fire Safety Act Raise Concerns

Thursday, June 2, 2016 @ 5:59 AM

Prince George, B.C.-  There are some changes coming to the  Fire Safety Act in B.C.  and  those changes have put  the Regional District of Fraser Fort George in a quandary.The two issues  are,  fire inspections, and fire investigations  “Those are two things Regional Districts have never done before” says Regional District of Fraser Fort George Administrator Jim Martin.  “In the  rural areas,  those matters have always  been done by the Office of the Fire Commissioner”.

The  Act has received final reading,  but won’t   take effect until a regulation is produced later this fall,  so   Martin says the Regional District is  sending a letter  to the  Office of the  Fire Commissioner  asking  for further consideration of
the impacts the changes will have on local  governments.    “We’re not the  only Regional District that has this concern, many others do” says Martin.  ” We were advised  that if we weren’t already doing these  kinds of things then  they  would be more permissive and it would be business as usual  as we have done in the past.  But  they way we read the  ( new) Act,   there are things  in there  telling us we have to do things, so we need to have  further conversations with the Office of the Fire Commissioner  about exactly our differences  of opinion in interpreting the legislation because at the end of the day, it’s really about us having a responsibility to  follow any legislation that’s put in place.”

Right now,  communities  outside of the  City of Prince George,  are serviced by volunteer fire  departments .  Martin says it’s difficult to pin point how much hiring a fire investigator would cost the Regional District  “If we have to appoint a fire investigator   that would investigate any kind of fire in a rural area, whether it’s a residential fire  or industrial fire in a rural  area, there are certain training requirements  and competency and skill set  and you  need to pay for that competency  and skill set, and how do you balance   that off with the frequency of work and we  have no idea what  that frequency  is either.”

When Regional Districts create services in the rural areas, they have to  have  the ratepayers approval  to pay  the  extra fees for that service,  as was the recent case of the new library building in McBride,  “This Act may put us in contravention  of  our ability to implement  that process and establish a Local Service  for it”  says Martin.

Martin says  the  regional District’s Board of Directors is also concerned that  the changes are another case of downloading “This is something  currently done by the Office of the Fire Commissioner , they are putting it on to Regional Districts now.  The other concern the Board has,  is this actually starts to  dilute  fire inspections and fire investigations, where you have a number of Regional  Districts  trying to figure out how to deliver this service which was once delivered by   the Office of the Fire Commissioner  who had a better handle on being able to train and be current with the codes and those sorts of things.”




Definitely another case of ‘downloading’ costs for services.
The B.C. liberal party/provincial government want to make their operation look fiscally responsible.
Election is in the air.

    You’re absolutely correct. Funny how all of a sudden there is money for school boards and all kinds of other things. Election is on the horizon.

Absolutely. They seem to also overlook there’s only ONE taxpayer, no matter which level of government does the collecting. It’s getting a bit much when we’ve got such a plethora of new rules and regulations that even those who write the seemingly never ending stream of them are finding it difficult themselves to keep them from conflicting with what they’ve already written.

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