PRRD seeks public input on Charlie Lake fire service expansion

A public meeting will be held Feb. 26 to discuss expanding fire services in Charlie Lake.

The regional district is looking for input on providing road rescue and first medical response services in the area. The fire hall only provides fire protection, when the service was first established in 1980.

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But the regional district has been mulling a potential service expansion over the last several years, with discussions brought to the fore after the early season wildfires in 2016.

The fire hall is staffed by a two full-time chiefs, and is largely manned by a volunteer force that responds to 100 to 115 calls per year. 

The new services would mean an increase in the department's workload and its budget.

The regional district expects an extra 10 to 20 road rescue calls per year, with start-up costs estimated at $47,000 for training, auto extrication tools, and other medical supplies.

Road rescue would cost $23,500 per year to maintain, and would complement the Fort St. John, Taylor, Hudson's Hope, and Fort Nelson fire departments, all of which currently provide the service in their respective areas.

The regional district expects an extra 35 to 50 medical response calls per year, which would help to alleviate ambulance delays to urgent and immediately life threatening calls. The fire department would provide patient care until paramedics arrive to take over and transport the patient to the hospital. The department could also respond to less urgent calls if requested.

Medical response would cost an estimated $30,250 annually, with start-up costs of $10,000.

Any new services require voter approval. If there's sufficient public interest, the regional district says it will undertake an elector approval process to amend the bylaw and expand the scope of services.

The public meeting is scheduled for Feb. 26 at the Charlie Lake community hall from 7 to 9 p.m.

Read more about the service expansion here

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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