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Water system fire flow action plan to start this year

A tone of reassurance detailing that “there are no changes to how fire flow will be provided should there be a fire within an SCRD (Sunshine Coast Regional District) water service area” came forward in a press release from that local gove
Mapping of projected future fire flow capacities on the Sunshine Coast, with areas anticipated to be below compliance levels shown by red dots.

A fire flow review has found that Sunshine Coast Regional District water systems need investments to stave off "increasing fire flow deficiencies," the Sunshine Coast Regional District Board heard at a Feb. 22 committee of the whole meeting. This said, the SCRD is offering reassurances that there are no changes to how fire flow will be provided in case of fire. 

The fire flow review, conducted in 2023 and presented at the committee meeting, identified SCRD areas that currently have lower flow standards than called for in the region’s bylaw and prescribed in the Master Municipal Construction (MMC) guidelines. (These areas are outlined in a map the SCRD shared in a Feb. 27 press release.)

At the committee meeting, area directors were encouraged to reassure their constituents that “nothing has changed” when it comes to firefighting abilities in neighbourhoods. Staff reported the review results have been shared with area fire departments who will be part of the next steps in planning for water system upgrades to address the situation moving forward.

The board has approved a budget for a fire flow action plan (FFAP), said the press release. "As fire flow will impact areas of potential development, the SCRD will work to align the plan with renewals currently underway of Official Community Plans for the SCRD and the District of Sechelt," it said. 

At the meeting, general manager of infrastructure services, Remko Rosenboom, advised that there “were still a lot of questions” about what will be needed to bring all SCRD water service areas into compliance with fire flow requirements. He said the FFAP will outline improvements that could be done and also other actions that could be taken to mitigate low fire flow issues, looking 40 years into the future.  During plan creation, he said there will be discussions with land development community representatives about “who does what” when it comes to making water system infrastructure improvements.

“Maybe there are some upgrades that could support an entire area, that SCRD might agree to take on," said Rosenboom, as he noted that smaller section improvements to benefit a single subdivision or project area may be something that would be required of the developer involved. 

Integral to the next steps of improving fire flow capacities will be setting of priorities related to which areas to address in which order, something that will require board direction. 

Rosenboom said another report on the FFAP will come to the committee later in 2024.