Glenmore’s continual growth prompted Kelowna city council to support in principle a plan to build the area a new $9.1 million neighbour- hood firehall and staff it with a full complement of firefighters, sometime between 2020 and 2024.
The plan, presented to council by Kelowna Fire Chief Jeff Carlisle, looked ahead to 2030.
Using data collected, Carlisle explained that the region’s needs are growing, and current firefighting response times in some neighbourhoods lag behind the acceptable average because resources are spread too thin.
To deal with the shortcomings, he made a pitch for the new Glenmore firehall and the resources to staff it.
“If I had my druthers I would staff the station today with 20 people out of Glenmore,” said Carlisle. “But I know and you know that it’s not possible given all the other priorities council has and given the things that need to be taken care of in the city.”
To address public safety in the immediate future, he requested that the Valley Road station be refurbished for somewhere in the area of $40,000 to $60,000 and that 12 firefighters be hired in the year ahead. Then, council could look at the option for a new firehall in the future.
While councillors were generally supportive of the plan at Monday’s council meeting, some noted concern for the expense, while others asked about how it would affect the capital spending plan already in place.
Coun. Luke Stack said he found the request to be reasonable, noting he’s seen the Glenmore area grow in size, which in turn increases its needs.
“This seems to be a very balanced strategic plan, and one that I’m comfortable with,” said Stack, before the rest of council voted to support the strategic plan in principle.
The fire department currently employs 96 full-time firefighters and 45 paid on-call firefighters spread out over seven fire halls.
The department maintains an effective response force of 16 firefighters at all times, considered the minimum effective response size to deal with a single-family residential house fire.