A new survey suggest Parksville residents are pretty happy with their fire department.
Though the department had hoped for a larger response, they are happy with the level of satisfaction and thoughtful responses from 69 residents of the Parksville Fire Protection Area who responded online in February and March. The response rate gives it a 15 per cent margin of error.
Of the responses, 78 per cent found the service to be “excellent or very good,” and 86 per cent said firefighters were courteous and helpful.
“They have a lot of support within the community and it’s important to get a sense of where we stand,” said mayor Chris Burger, who added that having the department operate at a professional standard is key to recruiting and retaining volunteers.
“The actual fighting of fires is a small part of what they do,” he said, pointing to all of the community education, safety inspections and other issues they deal with.
In a news release, the city said the responses indicated a need for more information on the department’s activities — particularly evident in the responses to a question about what incidents to which the fire department responds.
“We appreciate the time residents took to provide their comments and suggestions and the input will be considered as part of the department’s strategic planning review,” said fire chief Doug Banks.
While the survey found almost everyone is aware of the department and that it is a volunteer department, only 21 per cent had used the services including public education, burning complaints, gas leaks, building inspections and fire suppression.
While 91 per cent said they are aware of the annual recruitment campaign, only 35 per cent have considered volunteering.
The lowest responses came in the area of emergency preparedness where 54 per cent said they are prepared for a large scale emergency or disaster, only 66 per cent are aware of the community emergency program and just 57 per cent would like to see more public training from the department.
Of the 13 respondents who operate a business in Parksville, eight feel their businesses are prepared for an emergency or disaster.
“I don’t know how that compares to other communities,” Burger said. “We always want to see that higher but it’s good to see there’s some level of thinking about emergency preparation.”
The responses indicated the best ways for the department to communicate with residents were local newspapers (77%), City and PVFD websites (57%), public education (31%), e-mail (28%) and other “social media” (28%).
The fire protection area, estimated at 20,000 people, includes Parksville and parts of the Regional District of Nanaimo including San Pareil, Morningstar, Columbia Beach, French Creek, Fourneau Road and the Forever Green Estates.
Check www.pvfd.ca for more on the department.