As the Central Okangan Regional District prepares their 2011 budget, regional rescue and fire services are hoping for replacement boats and trucks to fulfill increasing demand.
CORD’s draft budget is approaching a public information session and potential adoption on March 25. Increases in the price of regional rescue services have gone up with greater need for such services.
Kelowna assistant fire chief Tom Doherty noted several increased costs for regional rescue services, including training and radio licensing.
Doherty said that over the last few years, regional rescue has seen a dramatic increase in responses, from marine rescues to extricating people from vehicles or rescuing them from high places.
Marine rescue calls alone doubled in 2010 from the previous year.
Doherty said the Peachland boat needs to be replaced this year, and the Lake Country boat will also need to be replaced soon. Peachland Fire and Rescue currently operates a 14-foot Zodiac for regional marine rescues.
Doherty noted the vessels are nearing 20 years of age, with pontoons that continually need replacing.
The new Peachland Zodiac is being purchased out of reserve funds, with the $200,000 allocation also intended to cover storage facilities and equipment for the boat.
Fire departments in Joe Rich and Ellison are also looking for the purchase of new equipment.
Regional fire coordinator Rod Miller said the purchase of a new fire engine for the Joe Rich fire department was recommended initially in the regional district’s 2010 budget.
He added the department did not move forward with the purchase last year in order to review the purchase and make sure they were getting the right piece of equipment.
The department intends to sell their older engine to make up part of the expense.
Miller said the Ellison fire department is purchasing a new engine this year, and the engine currently in service there will go to Joe Rich during the interim period.
He noted protection plans have identified water source as an issue in the Joe Rich area. The fire department plans to increase water capacity in the ground, and acquire the engine which will carry more water. The current engine carries up to 1,000 gallons.
“We need more water when responding to a fire.”