Responding to alarms

Parksville fire department a victim of its own success

Fires are a big part of the job

Fires are a big part of the job

Aside from a lack of new recruits, the Parksville Volunteer Fire Department is in pretty good shape, according to chief Doug Banks’ annual report to council.

The total number of incidents dropped for the third year in a row, by about 10 per cent. That was led by a huge drop in calls for alarms, the single biggest category, from 113 to 81 in 2010.

Motor vehicle incidents, the second largest category, remained the same. Structure fires jumped from 14 to 25, but the dollar loss dropped a quarter to $541,000.

While the department aims to have 40 volunteer members, they currently have 33 and over half of them have less than five year’s experience.

“There’s nothing better than experience,” he said, “but we do a lot of training to try to compensate for that.”

He said in a sense they have been a victim of their own success in training since many of their members go on to career fire fighting positions in bigger cities.

“We take that as a bit of a feather in our cap,” he said, but it also cuts into their membership.

The fire hall expansion project is on schedule and most tenders are coming in on or under budget. He said they expect to be able to move back in to begin using parts of the hall soon and completely finished by the end of the summer.