The Cariboo Regional District has seen a drop in numbers at volunteer fire halls due to its vaccine policy but maintains all halls are ready to respond to emergency call-outs.
The numbers, released Thursday by the CRD, show there are now 285 firefighters on active rosters in the region, down from 374 before the mandate came into effect on Jan. 17.
The biggest drop among the South Cariboo volunteer fire departments was in Forest Grove, which saw its roster drop from 30 members pre-mandate to 17 today. The Lone Butte Volunteer Fire Department went from 26 members to 17, while 108 Mile Volunteer Fire Department saw its roster dip from 19 members to 15. The Interlakes Volunteer Fire Department had 48 members pre-mandate and now sits at 40, while Lac La Hache dropped from 19 to 16 members.
Deka Lake Volunteer Fire Department remained steady at 19 members.
READ MORE: CRD vaccine policy remains in effect
The CRD said in a media release Thursday the announcement of a vaccine requirement for Cariboo Regional District volunteer firefighters was met with broad acceptance across the region and vocal opposition in some communities – as some members chose not to disclose their vaccination status.
Last week, the Lone Butte fire chief posted a statement online saying their hall would no longer attend medical first responder calls due to insufficient staffing.
“We understand and respect their decision and thank all volunteer firefighters, regardless of their vaccination status, for the important work they do,” the CRD said in the release.
The CRD added the majority of volunteer firefighters in the region have now met the vaccination requirement. “All volunteer halls are ready to respond to emergency call-outs.”
The CRD noted that the pre-mandate numbers included honourary and non-active members.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify that only the pre-mandate numbers included honourary and inactive members.