Controversial position filled

Glen Gallamore has been hired to fill the new firefighter training position.

The Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue’s (KBRFR) new firefighter training position has been filled.

Glen Gallamore of Company 4 was hired internally to take on the new position and will begin his new role on September 14.

The training position came about after the Office of the Fire Commissioner came out with a firefighters competency and training playbook in September 2014.

According go the playbook, in order for a fire department to be a full services operations department, every firefighter must meet the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 1001 Firefighter 2 Competencies.

Not all of KBRFR’s firefighters currently do.

So in June, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary East End Services Committee voted for the KBRFR to be a full service operations fire department, and to create the firefighter training position.

“Our career staff are at 1001 level 2, but we need all our paid on-call members to be at that level … also,” said Terry Martin, regional fire chief. “So we felt that if we had a dedicated training officer that he could focus on training for all of our 80 or so—because it fluctuates that number—paid on-call members.”

Gallamore did do some training in his original position, but since he only worked two days and two nights a week, and had many other responsibilities—he was in charge of the radio systems, keeping hose records, and also went out on calls—that left little time for training.

A paid on-call firefighter was hired to take on Gallamore’s shift now that he’ll be training full time.

The new position stirred some controversy when the East End Services Committee voted to create it.

Rossland city councillor Lloyd McLellan was the only member of the committee opposed to the new position, and Mayor Kathy Moore went on record to say she thought there must have been a better way.

“For the amount of money we are now spending on a training officer, a fair number of people could have attended courses at the Justice Institute or a trainer could have been brought out,” she told Rossland News. “I realize this isn’t ideal, and maybe not feasible, but I don’t believe other alternatives were properly explored.”

Chief Martin is aware of the opposition, and says he respects the East End Services Committee, all of its members and Mayor Moore, but feels the new position was the best option.

“If we’re going to be a full service operations fire department, we have an obligation to have all our members trained to that level—that NFPA 1001 level 2—and we felt … that this was the best way to go to have everybody trained.”

Revenue for the KBRFR is provided in part through property tax requisitions from each municipality in the district and this year $3,253,000, or 17 percent of the total property tax requisitions, has been allocated to the department. That amount is up $189,000 from last year.

Rossland will contribute $511,000 of that, which represents 34 percent of the city’s total property tax requisition this year.

The new position is for a minimum of three years, and will be evaluated throughout that time. If things go well, the position will be extended.