The Edgewater Fire Expansion is one step closer to a bylaw amendment to expand the existing Edgewater Fire Service boundary to include Spur Valley (which lies between Edgewater and Brisco).
The amendment has already been given three readings at the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) and has been submitted for approval on behalf of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing. Once it has approval from the Ministry it will come back to the board for consideration and adoption.
Residents from Spur Valley have requested fire protection in their area and the community is within the accepted standard 13 kilometres (which is the maximum insurable distance for fire protection) from Edgewater Fire Hall.
“It’s gone to the board on our end and we’re waiting on the go ahead to move forward with it. Spur Valley has never had fire protection in that area and a good amount of residents wanted and sought it out through Area G Director Gerry Wilke,” said Columbia Valley Rural Fire and Rescue Service Fire Chief Jim Miller.
After several meetings that helped to clear up questions and concerns regarding the service, 70 per cent of Spur Valley residents were in favour of instating it.
The community has been operating without fire protection, which means they’re on their own in the event of a fire, according to Mr. Miller.
“I don’t think people understand that no fire protection means no fire protection,” said Mr. Miller. Due to insurance reasons the Edgewater Fire Department would be unable to assist in the event of a fire at this time, which could potentially be devastating to the community.
Some concerns from Spur Valley residents at meetings that preceded the amendment readings involved the amount of time it would take for Edgewater to respond to a call.
“It’s within a reasonable distance but even if we were to lose the home in question, if we can save the surrounding homes or prevent the fire from spreading to the forest then we’ve done our job,” he said.
The fire department would also be able to provide medical services on scene and could help with life support until the arrival of an ambulance, which would be an added benefit to expanding Edgewater fire services to Spur Valley.
“They don’t have qualified fire protection and the amendment would give them semi-protected status,” said Mr. Wilke. “Many of them were concerned they had no protection and from a public safety standpoint and with the concern of wildfire, it’s an added level.”
The approval could take up to two months from the Ministry before the final adoption goes through, which means Spur Valley would have fire services in place for January, 2018.
“We’re really excited about it for them. They’ve been waiting a long time for the service so it will be nice to see it up and running,” said RDEK Manager of Building and Protective Services Sanford Brown.