Letters: Axing fire department not a way to balance budget

Readers says eight positions lost in Penticton since 2010 and it's the last place that should be cut

Axing firefighters not prudent way to solve budget woes

Eight staff positions at our dire fire department have been deleted since 2010, that’s almost a 20 per cent reduction.

One of those positions was a deputy fire chief.

His work included the management of our Fire Prevention Branch. It’s the place where you get the biggest bang for your tax dollars.

The cost/benefit analysis of preventing problems, be they fire, crime or health, is well known. Yet the cost reductions were favoured over the value of the service.

While it is true our fire dispatch service is now contracted to Kelowna and is still being done, our Penticton dispatchers, five of them, did a considerable amount of work other than fire dispatching.

That work is now downloaded to the remaining staff; it’s added to their workload.  The same workload plus less staff to do it equals reduced service.

The benefit was a reduction in our staffing costs and that was the priority of the decision makers. This year three firefighters retired, only one was replaced. And while some will suggest we just do more with less, it’s not that simple.

Your fire department has been doing its best to meet industry standards.  Specifically that means two engines, each with three firefighters, responding to fire emergencies.

Until the staff reduction we were meeting that goal about 90 per cent of the time. We now meet that goal about 50 per cent of the time because we arrive with five firefighters instead of six.

So don’t be surprised if a fire engine arrives at your home or workplace and only two firefighters are on board.

The difference in the service you receive is that three firefighters will have the ability to immediately perform many of the critical tasks needed to mitigate an emergency, whereas two firefighters will not be able to immediately perform some of those critical tasks, until additional firefighters arrive.

The City of Penticton is currently deciding its 2014 budget.  I am advocating for improved service from the fire department. I work at the fire department, so just like teachers advocating for better education or nurses and doctors for better health care, I think it’s important to promote the idea of a more fire safe community.

If you value the services of your  fire department please let mayor and council know.  They’re looking for input to help make some very difficult budget decisions.

Dennis Smith



Letters ideal way to share opinions

I have pondered what motivates anyone to write a letter to the editor.  I cannot speak for everyone, but I write for a number of reasons.

First off, this gives me a chance to give back to the community.

This is selfish as it is self gratifying, but I do not expect any accolades from the readers, but instead hopefully I can bring attention to what is bothering me which might be bothering them as well.

We live in the community served by the Western News and each of us is responsible to the community, writing a letter to the editor gives us the chance to bring attention to any problems that might harm the community or bring about personal concerns that might be affecting others in the community as well.

Some concerns might be trivial, but to the writer it is more than trivial and oft-times the writer cannot find the proper avenue to alleviate these concerns, so the written word and hopefully it will reach the proper authorities or find others with the same concerns and together they might make a difference.

My letters to the editor are not the final word, they are simply my opinions and I am sure that there are many that disagree with me on many subjects.

Letters to the editor provide a forum for discussion and bring attention to what might be bothering them without standing on a soap-box and speaking in public.

Personally my mind goes blank and I get tongue-tied if I am asked to speak in public, so writing to the editor gives me the chance to speak and to get it off my chest if there is something that is bothering me and I might honestly believe that it might be bothering others as well. So readers, please take advantage of your opportunity to voice your opinion. This is a community forum sponsored by your local newspaper so please take advantage of this gift.

Donald E Thorsteinson



Federal government ignores environmental risks

The federal government has approved oilsands expansion despite environmental concerns. Clearly your government is not acting responsibly on behalf of Canadians.

Please address this in your next column and tell us what you are doing to stand up to Harper to stop this from going ahead.

It is in yours and your children’s best interest to help ensure that we are not going to allow Shell and other companies to cause serious consequences forever by their irresponsible actions, destroying our environment, our fish and wildlife.

Just because Harper has no conscience, does that mean you don’t either?

Irene MacDonald



LNG a hazardous proposition

The threat and vulnerability the Liberal caucus is placing on the province and its people far exceed the profits from allowing the liquid natural gas storage and distribution system for export at Kitimat, B.C. for the sake of B.C.’s economy.

One of the proposed LNG tanks is the size of a Vancouver indoor football stadium. Considering the amount of high octane fuel, if it were ignited by accident or an act of terrorism, the expanded force released would equal two nuclear bombs exploding simultaneously.

I understand that there is going to be more than one of these built. Can you fathom the thousands of lives lost within minutes? You can almost imagine the Al-Qaida drawing up their plans now.

Should such an atrocity occur, the mountains around Kitimat would be reduced to rubble. Every city within 1,000 kilometres would crumble.

The instant tsunami wave, building up pressure as it moved, would grow to a height of 25 metres. By the time it was halfway down the Douglas Channel, it would wipe every living thing off the islands down to the bare rocks. Any fishing trawlers or cargo ships caught in Hecate Strait would be at the ocean’s bottom in minutes.

So, why have the storage tanks on B.C. soil at all when they could be constructed in Alberta on clear flat land and less costly to build?

Not to mention we could avoid the billion spent on medicare and disability payment for the 2,000 welders or more suffering from lung cancer and silicosis, plus all the rest of the industrial injuries occurring until the project is completed.

The residents of B.C. are in dire need of a responsible government that can see past their noses and think outside the box, because, in all logic and reality, one LNG storage tank of this magnitude in size could literally have Canada held at ransom by one person, from anywhere in the world with a backpack full of plastics or a Cessna pilot with a barrel of fertilizer.

The solution: The LNG storage tanks be built in Alberta and only one-third the proposed size and they be 1 km apart.

Michael Bunn



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