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November 28, 2012
The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) board of directors has approved a new fire services administration model for the electoral areas that will see the chiefs of the fire protection services for Hornby Island, Denman Island, Fanny Bay and Black Creek-Oyster Bay becoming employees of the regional district, and service agreements being developed that will reduce direct liability for volunteer firefighting associations.
As part of the electoral area fire services administration model review, key objectives were identified that included liability coverage for the fire department members, as well as regional district oversight and risk management of the fire services.
A consultant worked with the CVRD and the fire departments and recommended that a step towards achieving an appropriate level of fire service oversight would be to have the fire chiefs become employees of the regional district, reporting to the manager of fire services.
“Clarification of reporting line and authority will provide the oversight essential for the CVRD to manage the risks associated with providing fire services,” said Edwin Grieve, CVRD board chair and co-chair of the Black Creek-Oyster Bay fire service.
The Hornby Island, Denman Island and Fanny Bay fire departments are all within the CVRD's Baynes Sound-Denman/Hornby Islands (Area ‘A'), whereas the Black Creek-Oyster Bay department provides fire service in the CVRD's Puntledge-Black Creek (Area ‘C') and also across the boundary of the Strathcona Regional District's Black Creek-Oyster River (Area ‘D').
Because the Black Creek-Oyster Bay fire department serves an area north of the Oyster River as well, decisions for that fire service are voted on by the representative from the SRD's Area ‘D' and the CVRD's Area ‘C'.
“The new administration model will provide better liability protection for our Oyster River volunteer fire crews, while maintaining the identity and integrity of the service in terms of the ability of elected directors to effectively represent the interests of the people in Black-Creek-Oyster Bay,” said Brenda Leigh, SRD director for Area ‘D', and co-chair of the Black Creek-Oyster Bay fire service.
The fire chiefs and fire department members actively participated in the administration model review, and the fire departments and their associations support the new model.
The implementation of the new fire service administration model does not directly affect the operational delivery of the service, and the long-term outcome is the recognition and protection of the volunteer firefighters, a more efficient fire service able to meet the increasing demands of the public being served, as well as the increasing requirement for regional district oversight and risk management.
The Comox Valley Regional District is a federation of three electoral areas and three municipalities providing sustainable services for residents and visitors to the area. The members of the regional district work collaboratively on services for the benefit of the diverse urban and rural areas of the Comox Valley.
James Bast, manager of fire services
Comox Valley Regional District