QC, Skidegate firefighters ready to cooperate

  • Jun. 15, 2011 1:00 p.m.

The Queen Charlotte firefighters are ready to work with Skidegate’s volunteer fire department, but they needed to do some housekeeping first. Fire chief Larry Duke said he realized Queen Charlotte’s fire department bylaw was very specific about when his department can respond to calls from outside their jurisdiction. In 2009, Queen Charlotte council approved a resolution authorizing the fire department assist Skidegate, but this resolution didn’t jive with the bylaw, said Mr. Duke. Councillors discussed the issue at their June 6 meeting and agreed to amend the Volunteer Fire Department Bylaw 20-2008. The amended bylaw now says the fire department can leave the municipality in response to a request for assistance by the fire department in another area. But it also needed to get resolutions from the Skidegate Band Council and the Regional District to allow this. Chief administrative officer Bill Beamish said council also needed to pass a resolution which would provide terms and conditions to the VFD’s ability to assist. The resolution was passed June 8, which sets a six month open term for assistance. Mr. Beamish also noted the QC fire department has already been providing assistance in the form of training and the purchase of compatible equipment in order to work with Skidegate. In the longer term, Queen Charlotte and Skidegate need to work on a mutual aid agreement. Mr. Duke also noted the QC VFD is working on further operational guidelines. He said calls from outside boundaries can come due to motor vehicle accidents, forest fires or calls from other communities. “We need to evaluate resources at the time of the call to see if we can respond while continuing to protect Queen Charlotte.” Meanwhile, the Skidegate Fire Department has had more people coming out to meetings, since a story about its critical shortage of volunteers appeared in the Observer. Member Roy Jones Jr. said that around 11 people came out to a recent meeting. “We’ve got powerful men joining us,” he said. “The news story broke the ice.”