Who you gonna call?
When it comes to reporting fire emergencies in the South Okanagan and Similkameen, the answer, is about to become the Kelowna Fire Department.
While callers in the South Okanagan will not notice any difference from what they experience now, as of Dec. 15, dispatchers in Kelowna will handle emergency fire calls for the entire South Okanagan and Similkameen.
The KFD won a five-year contract to provide the service earlier this summer and on Monday, Kelowna city council approved the deal. It will see the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen pay Kelowna $1.8 million over the life of the contract to handle emergency fire calls in its area.
Kelowna assistant fire chief Jason Brolund said taking on the additional responsibility will not adversely impact response times or dispatch operations here but will, in fact, help improve local service.
Part of the deal calls for the hiring of two more dispatchers in Kelowna and that will mean an increase to the nighttime coverage in the dispatch centre at the main fire hall on Enterprise Way. Currently there is often just one dispatcher on at a time at night.
The cost of the new dispatchers will be borne by the revenue generated by the contract, said Brolund.
Using technology, high-tech mapping, satellite imaging and local knowledge that the Kelowna dispatchers plan to get through visits to the South Okanagan and meetings with area fire chiefs there before the contract takes effect in December, Brolund said there should be no concern about a lack of presence hindering the local dispatchers when they deal with South Okanagan calls.
Kelowna won the bid to provide dispatch services to the RDOS in June, when it beat out three other bids. For the last 21 years, City of Penticton dispatchers have handled the service in the South Okanagan.