Parksville Fire Department looks forward

Succession an issue because well-trained volunteers getting paid jobs in bigger cities

The Parksville Volunteer Fire Department is always thinking about volunteer recruitment and retention, chief Doug Banks told council as he introduced a major review and update of their strategic plan.

Conducted internally by department members, the plan will be used by staff and council to determine future needs with a focus on staffing, facilities, apparatus, health and safety and emergency preparedness.

“I am a bit concerned about emergency preparation,” said mayor Chris Burger, “with 25 volunteers and nine emergency reception centres.”

Banks pointed out they meet a high standard doing more than 6,000 hours of training so far this year and they are working on succession planning in light of the older age of some of their key members.

He also pointed to the tricky balance of having volunteers so well trained that they lose a few every year on average to paid departments in bigger cities.

The report points to an issue with keeping up building inspections stating they did 349 of the required 650 checks in 2012 and suggesting they either need more staff, a relaxation of the city’s inspection requirements, or some combination of both.

The report says the newly renovated firehall is ideally located and meets the departments current need and recommends reassessing every five years.

It points to a long talked about idea of a second hall in the department’s training ground in the industrial park as useful in the event of a large-scale natural disaster, but that it is not in the works in the immediate future.

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