Latest Promontory fire raises questions

As a resident of Promontory I was dismayed by four matters addressed in your Thursday, July 7, article about the recent house fire on Daniel Drive.

As a resident of Promontory I was dismayed by four matters addressed in your Thursday, July 7, article about the recent house fire on Daniel Drive.

First of all, living near another residence (a townhouse) which burned three weeks ago I know that neighbors there were also upset with the time it took for the firefighters to arrive. In regard to the Daniel Drive blaze Fire Chief Rick Ryall said the two trucks from the Sardis Fire Hall 4 were at Cottonwood Mall and downtown when the blaze was reported so the first firefighters on the scene had to come from downtown, increasing the response time. Which raises a question about why the truck at Cottonwood Mall did not arrive first?

The second matter is the comment from the Fire Chief, “I can’t dispute that if the full-time guys were twiddling their thumbs at Fire Hall 4 the response time would have been faster.” Having some professional firefighters as family and friends I do not think they would appreciate the inference of the chief that this is what firefighters do when they are not actually fighting a fire.

The chief also blamed the traffic at that time of day. That is why emergency vehicles have lights and sirens and the right-of-way. I watched one of the responding trucks coming up Promontory Road at its steepest point and it was moving like any other heavy truck trying to climb that hill.

My third point is the chief’s statement that Chilliwack has 24 professional firefighters plus paid-on-call volunteers. The City of Chilliwack’s statistics predicted a population of 86,000 for 2010. Since likely no more than 8 of those 24 professional firefighters are on duty at any given time it raises another question about the need for more professional firefighters in Chilliwack. A few months ago the mayor admitted in an interview that for its size Chilliwack has the fewest professional firefighters per capita in British Columbia.

My final concern is the statement by the chairperson of the Promontory Resident’s Association that “neither full-time firefighters nor a firehall in Promontory is being talked about…” Why not? The City of Chilliwack has permitted the building of homes and businesses in Promontory so that the population numbers in the many thousands, yet we are not considered important enough to have a staffed firehall on Promontory. I suggest that it is time that the administration of the city realizes that Chilliwack is no longer a small town and begins planning immediately to increase the number of firehalls and firefighters to service the community. It is one of our most critical needs and it needs to be addressed now.

I only hope the company through which I purchase my house insurance does not find out about this problem, otherwise our insurance premiums are certain to increase.

Reid W. Fowler

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