I am writing this letter because I am a concerned taxpayer in the Chilliwack (Sardis) area. I am very uneasy with the fire protection we presently have.
The way it works in Chilliwack, we have a bare minimum coverage as far as fire protection. We have a large group of paid on call firefighters that drop whatever they are doing and rush to help you or myself if we call on them. This worked well in the past, when Chilliwack was considered to be a small town. Chilliwack is no longer a small town. We have a growing population that expects a fast response to a fire scene.
In the past 14 years that my family has lived here, I am still in awe of how well our fire department does on a skeleton crew. The recent fire on Promontory Goldspring Drive had an initial response of approximately 14 minutes. [Paid On Call] firefighters started showing up in 3-4 minute incriminates after that. I am writing this to make the public aware that there is a WCB minimum requirement. The firefighters who first show up can only gain entry to the house if there are four firefighters on scene. This is called 2 in 2 out rule.
I will not quote NFPA standards or quote the minimum response time expected to any house in most jurisdictions. I want to make it very clear to the citizens of Chilliwack that if a truck shows up to your house and your children, grandparents, loved ones are inside, the firefighters cannot go in unless there is minimum four members on scene!
Presently I am of the understanding that we have one truck manned with three members on board and Sardis with two on a pumper on a good day. Hopefully we only have one incident at a time.
I just wanted people of Chilliwack to know that the fire protection we have in this ever expanding community is very understaffed. We rely too much on volunteers to augment our skeleton crew of full time members! As long as the citizens of Chilliwack realize that if we want response times to reduce, protection to increase then we need to increase full-time firefighters.
PS, Don’t even get me started on medical aid calls!!!
Captain, North Vancouver Fire Services.