No money for full time firefighters

Sidney firefighters perform an auto extraction training exercise in 2008. Last week, town council decided against funding four extra full time firefighters. - file photo
Sidney firefighters perform an auto extraction training exercise in 2008. Last week, town council decided against funding four extra full time firefighters.
— image credit: file photo

Professional firefighters are not in the Town of Sidney budget for this year.

Council decided to take a “cautious” approach while approving its budget last week, with a 2.81 per cent increase.

They opted out of a proposed hiring plan for Sidney Volunteer Fire Department.

“The challenge was the fire service,” said Mayor Larry Cross. “We looked at that and the implications long-term are significant.”

The plan called for the hiring of four full time firefighters, over a four year period, to augment Sidney’s volunteer ranks.

“Council felt that for the larger interests of the community we had to move very cautiously on this, so we’re taking a cautious approach and constant monitoring,” Cross said.

The department is healthy now, with a roster of 37, he pointed out.

“I think that the volunteers give us outstanding service. They’re doing a marvellous job for the town,” Cross said.

“Our numbers are not that bad right at the moment. But we had an influx of people here a year ago,” agreed fire chief Jim Tweedhope. “We’re certainly not getting as many people wanting to be members as 10 years ago.”

Instead the town invested $10,000 in exploring how to creatively reach new volunteers, for example encouraging women to join the fire service.

“We really needed to explore the opportunities to expand our volunteers service,” said Cross. “Our sense is that half the population at least is available there, and we only have two or three [women] now on a roster of 37.”

“We’ve got some ideas and we’ll certainly look at those and see how that pans out. We need to exhaust every possibility,” Tweedhope said.

The town will also look at how volunteers can be more recognized for the work they do. Cross suggested a formal ceremony when a trainee achieves his or her badge.

They’ll also look at some the joint use agreements already in place with other services in the area.

“We may be able to extend some of that,” Cross said.

“The trends in volunteerism are not looking good,” Cross said. “We’ll be looking at it every year. If we start to see we’re sliding into difficulty— Due diligence is what we’re into now, making sure we monitor it very carefully.”

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

ICBC frauds include fires, faked thefts
Green MLA Weaver to seek leadership
Silent visitor
Temporary urgent water conservation measures required
Council takes issue with Canada Post
Old Red Balloon building demolition underway
Embattled Storm owner expresses his regrets
Schedule adjustment ‘falls short’
Furlong seeks to dismiss sexual-abuse lawsuit

Community Events, January 2015

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Jan 28 edition online now. Browse the archives.