Valley fire dispatch services moving to Kelowna

A new fire dispatch services deal has been inked between the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) and the City of Kelowna.

A new fire dispatch services deal has been inked between the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) and the City of Kelowna.

The Kelowna Fire Department will be providing support for the 16 fire departments that are located in the RDEK starting on Monday, May 30th.

“The City of Cranbrook advised the RDEK that they were choosing not to renew their contract for fire dispatch for operational reasons,” said Sanford Brown, manager, building and protective services at the RDEK. “We needed to find a new contractor with the skills, experience and technology to provide the same high level of service to our region and our fire departments at the most affordable price. So our next step was to send out a Request for Expressions of Interest after which a Request for Proposals was sent to those agencies who expressed interest in providing the service.”

There was a total of three proposals received when the request was issued, but none of them were submitted by locals, which encouraged the RDEK to look at alternative options.

“After evaluation by fire chiefs from around the region and RDEK staff, it was determined that the Kelowna Fire Department proposal would meet our needs at a reasonable cost,” said Mr. Brown.

However, there shouldn’t be any changes in the quality of service that the public will see.

“It’s a positive change. The Kelowna Fire Department is more advanced in technology so it’s definitely a positive change because that’s what they do full-time,” said Columbia Valley Rural Fire and Rescue fire chief, Jim Miller. “Cranbrook was doing it before but, to keep doing it, they would have eventually needed to do more upgrades. There was nothing wrong with the way it was taken care of, but it will relieve them of that duty and they can focus on their own fire issues as opposed to running a 911.”

Ultimately, Miller believes the change will be positive for both areas and has the potential to help improve fire procedures in the valley.

“It’s a good move,” he said, “it’s a positive one, for sure. There are dedicated personnel for (fire dispatch in Kelowna) who are really well-trained and dedicated, so for us, it’s a betterment.”

He noted the technology and their experience could become an asset to the Columbia Valley.

“We are able to provide the new service within our existing capacity,” said Travis Whiting, deputy fire chief of the City of Kelowna in a recent press release. “The selection of Kelowna Fire to dispatch for the RDEK is a reflection of the professional and efficient work of our dispatchers in support of local first responders.”

To learn more about the Kelowna Fire Department, visit www.Kelowna.ca/Fire. For more information about the RDEK, visit www.RDEK.bc.ca.

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