The Cariboo Regional District said no volunteer fire halls are anticipated to be closed as a result of its impending policy to require all employees, volunteers, and contractors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The CRD is one of many regional districts and other government organizations across B.C. instituting similar policies. Firefighters who serve with the regional district’s 14 volunteer fire departments are included in the policy, which is set to come into effect in January.
“Importantly, the policy is not a commentary on the skills and training of the CRD’s dedicated volunteer firefighters,” the CRD said in a news release. “They have shown their worth time and time again in providing effective emergency response to the community.”
The CRD said it considered legal, medical and privacy concerns and sought expert advice before deciding on the policy. Employee and volunteer safety, as well as public health best practices, were the primary criteria in making the decision.
The news release noted there has been speculation on social media platforms that the policy could result in the closure of volunteer fire halls.
Typically, a fire department that falls below minimum levels is afforded time to recruit and train additional members before its certification is impacted. The CRD said any volunteer departments that do fall below minimum levels due to members not being fully vaccinated will be supported with recruitment and training efforts encouraging fully vaccinated members of the community to be a part of fire protection efforts in their area.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter in the Cariboo Regional District can learn more and apply online at: https://www.cariboord.ca/Join-Now/