I am a recently retired Penticton firefighter and keep fairly close connections with the current firefighter team.
I would like to offer some insight from my perspective as a taxpayer on the upcoming election. The Municipal Insurance Association, which insures the City of Penticton, defines risk management as “The process of making and carrying out decisions that will minimize the adverse financial effects of losses upon an organization.” Past city councils’ approach to protecting the city was to “increase the level of risk to an acceptable level without incurring cost.” That is a quote from a past senior manager. In other words, underfunding the fire department and hope nothing bad happens.
They even went so far as to take the Penticton firefighters to B.C. Supreme Court to argue that somehow Penticton is different than other communities in B.C. when it comes to protecting the citizens and their property from fire risk and justify their underfunding. This approach resulted in losing the case and having the two chiefs suing the city over their perceived underpaid wages.
Fortunately, the current council changed that direction and hired a progressive chief and deputies to rebuild the team just in time for the province’s two worst years for flooding and fires. The result was a clear line of defence at the boundaries of the city. Other communities suffered losses but Penticton was protected by a dedicated and now, more than ever, confident team of firefighters who were the first line of defence, whether it was sandbagging or attacking fire when it broke out. This co-ordinated defence could have only been there to protect us through the strong direction and leadership of Andrew Jakubeit.
I urge Penticton to vote for Andrew for mayor in the coming election. We can’t go back to putting our heads in the sand and hoping for the best. The risks are real and need to be supported by strong leadership giving the firefighters confidence when the worst happens. The proof is seen in the results.
Retired Penticton firefighter