Fire Chief Rob Michael introduced a new Town of Gibsons council to the Gibsons and District Volunteer Fire Department and presented third quarter statistics (July through September) at a committee of the whole Nov. 15.
One of the striking images presented to council was of the $20,000 it takes to fund each firefighter in equipment and expenses. “Although the volunteer model results in significant cost savings to the community, there are still considerable costs required to ensure these fiercely dedicated individuals are well equipped and properly trained,” said Michael. “With rising calls and increasing training requirements, the volunteer model is being closely examined to determine the viability moving forward.”
At the end of the third quarter, the department had 37 members and a recruit class of 10 is expected to start this month. The department also lost one volunteer firefighter who has moved to Vancouver Island. “Volunteer firefighters are the department’s biggest asset,” said Michael.
The department responded to 113 calls for service in the quarter compared to 97 in the same period last year. Calls included a boat fire (though the boat was on land at the time), a brush fire at Gospel Rock, a dumpster fire near the mall and several small structure fires “contained to the exterior due to quick action by firefighters,” said Michael. The RCMP issued one ticket for illegal burning under the Wildfire Act when a property owner refused to extinguish their cooking fire during open burning restrictions, mentioned Michael. He also noted a reminder that all open burning is prohibited within town limits.