70 Mile House Fire Chief Jeff Warner stands in the Structural Protection Unit the fire department put together in the past couple of years to protect residents during a wildfire. (Ken Alexander photo)

70 Mile House Fire Chief Jeff Warner stands in the Structural Protection Unit the fire department put together in the past couple of years to protect residents during a wildfire. (Ken Alexander photo)

70 Mile House Firefighters Association president doubtful about amalgamation

Ken Alexander’s column to the Free Press

70 Mile House Firefighters Association president Dennis Huber said he doesn’t think the community of 70 Mile House residents would have much of an appetite to amalgamate the 70 Mile House and the South Green Lake Volunteer fire departments if it means there would be a substantial tax increase.

Noting the association received $30,000 from the TNRD in September to run the fire department operation, Huber said it was the last of the five years of TNRD forwarding the tax money following the regional district’s proposal to do a study on amalgamating the two fire departments.

“We haven’t heard a word from anybody [about the amalgamation study.]”

If there was an amalgamation, Huber said it would guarantee funding for the 70 Mile House Fire Department, and it would become a TNRD fire hall.

The question is how much [tax] money are they going to want, Huber explained.

He added that five years ago, it was estimated the regional district would need $150,000 in taxes to meet the TNRD standards.

Huber said the $150,000 in taxes estimate may have changed, but he hasn’t been told anything.

“[$150,000 in taxes] won’t fly because it’s five times as much as [what the community residents are paying already.]”

Fire chief working to increase training

The 70 Mile firefighters normally train every Tuesday.

Jeff Warner is the new 70 Mile House fire chief and said they have nine firefighters and are looking for more because he doesn’t often have all of the volunteers to respond to callouts because some work full time.

Noting South Green Lake Volunteer Fire Department (SGLVFD) trainer Del Westfall is helping 70 Mile firefighters and officers with training, Warner said Westfall provided a couple of pumps and pumping sessions and two sessions of officer training.

“[Westfall] has also offered to do training at the fire hall and do something different each time to help get us through the Playbook,” the fire chief said.

The Fire Commissioner is required to establish the minimum standards of training required for fire services personnel in British Columbia. The Playbook sets out competency-based training that provides a minimum level of sequential training and operational requirements that must be met by each fire department.

70 Mile department wants Playbook training

“I would say we’re far enough into the Playbook that it [shows] we are serious about it.

“I told [SGLVFD] Fire Chief Roger Graham were serious about it and I have enough dedicated guys.”

Unlike many rural fire departments, Warner said the 70 Mile firefighters are a young group. He is the oldest member on the crew at the age of 60.

“Normally rural fire departments are made up of retired guys,” he added.

The fire chief said he’s been firefighting since 2008 and most of his training was originally done through the 100 Mile House fire department.

He added his first responder ticket expired two years ago and he and one of his captains are interested in taking their level 3 course to get their first responder tickets back.

Warner said 70 Mile House had a wildfire go through the community in 2009. People driving to 100 Mile House can still see the charred trees mostly on the left side of the highway.

Obviously, the community needs a fire department to protect its residents.

Warner noted that wildfire spurred the local fire department to procure some money to build a Structural Protection Unit (SPU) for the community and to rent it out to the Office of the Fire Commissioner to provide fire protection to other communities being threatened by wildfires.

Noting they have been working on the SPU for the past couple of years, which is up to the Office of the Fire Commissioner specifications, Warner said “We could probably protect 50 or more homes with it.”

Meanwhile, the fire chief said he believes “becoming a TNRD fire department is our only choice to keep our fire department going.”

Winter is a busy time for SMAC

Volunteers are gearing up for the yuletide season at the Seventy Mile Access Centre (SMAC).

The big event for the season is the annual Christmas Craft Bazaar on Dec. 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

SMAC spokesperson Caryl Cornett said all of the tables are rented out for the popular event that features all kinds of great crafts that make perfect Christmas gifts, home decorations, foodstuff and the like. The crafters enjoy this event as much as the shoppers.

Chilli and hotdogs will be available and there will be a bake sale and some draws.

She noted they will not be taking large donations (furniture) until after the bazaar.

Food Bank Drive

Cornett said SMAC is also asking for donations of dry goods for Country Kitchen Food hampers. The hampers are available twice a month at the beginning of the month and in the middle.

People wanting food hampers can register at SMAC when the Thrift store is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

She said it’s strictly confidential and hampers must be picked up at SMAC.

“If you know someone or a family that needs a food hamper, let us know and they will be contacted.”

Christmas hampers and gifts

Cornett said SMAC will be giving out Christmas hampers and gifts again this year. SMAC will need to know the age and gender of children as a small gift is included with the Christmas hamper.

People can pick up their Christmas hampers the week before Christmas.

She added the volunteers need to know how many hampers they need to put together and when they will be picked up to make arrangements. “Please phone 250-456-6061 and leave a message.”

People can go to SMAC to register for the regular food hampers from the County Kitchen during operation hours, these are given out twice a month beginning and middle of the month.

The Access centre always accepts donations, Cornett said. Donations can be left at SMAC or at the 70 Mile Store.

Coffee’s On

The Coffee’s On program is back up and running on Tuesdays at SMAC from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

It is a social function where people can drop in to chat with neighbours or meet new friends.

There is a lunch of soup, buns, bread or biscuits, and dessert with tea or coffee – a small donation for this is appreciated.


newsroom@100milefreepress.net

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