Company No. 1’s fire hall in Rossland.

Company No. 1’s fire hall in Rossland.

Shared fire services still hot topic for City of Rossland council

One of Rossland’s fire engines is currently on loan to Trail after its old fire engine gave up the ghost.

One of Rossland’s fire engines is currently on loan to Trail after its old fire engine gave up the ghost.

Company 4’s engine developed some “serious transmission issues” that couldn’t be repaired and so Company 1’s engine will be on loan until a new truck arrives in June. In the meantime, Rossland will still have another engine and a water tender a tanker for transporting water to a fire scene on site, and Terry Martin, regional fire chief, says Rossland will still have adequate fire services in the event of an emergency.

“It looks like we’re pulling a truck out of Rossland and they’re down an apparatus, when in fact, with what’s referred to as our run card assignment, if there’s a larger scale incident in the city of Rossland, we send the career staff from Trail in one of the truck’s. We also send Company No. 2, Warfield, up the hill as well.”

And as the Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue is a shared service of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), that means Rossland will help foot the bill for the new fire engine, which will cost $750,000, or $150,000 per year over five years. Rossland’s portion will, as always, be determined by the city’s assessment values. Based on 2015 assessment values, Rossland would pick up $24,700 per year or approximately 16 per cent of the tab.

It’s calculating the tab based on assessment values that the Rossland city council has a problem with, and council has long protested the amount that the district spends on fire services. In February, council even announced that it would be forming a Fire Service and Emergency Services Review Task Force to review the fire service and look for more affordable options, though the final report from the task force hasn’t yet been made public.

In keeping with Rossland’s stance on fire service costs, at a recent East End Services Committee meeting, Councillor Lloyd McLellan, the City of Rossland’s representative on the RDKB board of directors, voted with other directors against Trail renting an additional truck until the new one arrived, because of the extra cost. “We thought ‘Well, if we can go most of the year without having one, then why would we rent one for,’ I think it’s $1500 a month or something like that to rent one,” he says.

McLellan isn’t concerned about Rossland having one of its engines on loan. “I don’t have any problem with Company 4 using our truck. We have a secondary truck here. It’s not like our service is going to suffer,” he says. In fact, McLellan thinks the best thing might be to close some of the district’s fire halls and save some money. Rossland is even looking at the possibility of starting its own department.

“That in itself is difficult because we’ve participated in building the hall here, we’ve participated in the purchase of equipment over the 18 years or so that they’ve had a regional service. It would be a fight to have them recognize our contribution and give us some equipment,” says McLellan. “You might get into a real dog fight about it and have to buy your own equipment.”

Martin says he’s aware of the Rossland city council’s concerns about how much they pay and the RDKB is working on its own review of fire services. “We’re working with all our participants. We report to the East End Services, which the City of Rossland is a member of. We are working at looking at the budget, obviously, and we have formed a sustainability committee to try to find some ways of saving some money in the 2017 budget as we move forward.” McLellan is one of the members of that committee. “He is well aware of some of the information that we’re putting forward,” adds Martin.