Dispatch decision under fire

The Penticton Fire Department Fire Dispatch will be dismantled in favour of Kelowna’s bid, leaving many questions unanswered.

The Penticton Fire Department Fire Dispatch will be dismantled in favour of Kelowna’s bid, leaving many questions unanswered.

Did their proposal include hiring of additional manpower in Kelowna or was this to be a little surprise later when it’s too late?  Will Kelowna, when experiencing a major incident, be able to provide uninterrupted service and support to the RDOS without adding additional personnel?

During the 1994 “Garnet Fire,” our personnel, together with neighbouring fire departments, did outstanding work in protecting the city.

This could not have been carried out without the help of the Penticton Fire Dispatch.  Fire Dispatch retained its regular duties, providing services to the RDOS.

These extra functional duties are available to RDOS departments through mutual aid.

Did the directors who voted against Penticton’s bid do so because of new so-called technology being proposed?

Were they not informed by RDOS senior management that maintaining and replacing dispatch equipment was the responsibility of the RDOS?

How much additional equipment are the fire departments having to provide to make the new system work?

I recall the original contract-for-service, signed between the RDOS and the City, included a “dispute” procedure where the concerned party can question service level on any operational concern and if not resolved, arbitration would be the process to resolve the issue.

Was this process ever exercised?  If not, why not?

Will the RDOS now be exposed to liability?

When you are dealing with an entity outside your own regional district and you have dismantled an already functioning system, you no longer have any ‘wiggle’ room or options — you pay the price or go without.

Will the directors who voted for change be held accountable if, heaven forbid, lives are lost or a major incident occurs and we don’t have the hands-on support we now have?

In conclusion, this is a very important issue dealing with lives and property.  I believe it deserves a cooling-off period, delaying the signing of the contract-for-service.

This would allow all proposals to be revisited; compare oranges with oranges, peel away the skin and carry out a thorough comparison with no hidden or inflated costs, unknowns or unsubstantiated promises.

The management of both the City and the RDOS should be directed to sit down and reach a positive conclusion: one that is fair to all and thereby retaining autonomy.

Brent Hodgins

Retired Fire Chief