Several regional district directors would like to see more input from regional fire chiefs in the telecommunications strategy.
The matter came up during a Protective Services Committee update on January 24.
Planetworks Consultants presented a rather negative report of present 911 infrastructure at the November 15 Protective Services Committee meeting of the board. The consultant’s report presented two possible approaches for upgrades to the system, at costs of 1.6 million or 2.3 million dollars respectively. Both upgrade choices offered the extensive use of radio signals to convey emergency signals across the district.
Area “D” Director Tom Siddon and Area “C” Director Allan Patton both expressed a desire to hear a committee of regional fire chiefs recommendation to the board prior to a decision regarding the upgrade methodololgy.
“I will be hosting an appreciation dinner for Area “D” fire departments this evening,” said Siddon. “I will be discussing this matter with the Kaleden and Okanagan Falls chiefs.”
Siddon described a recent communication from Planetworks as being “self justification” for their recommendation to use a network of radio repeater towers to convey 911 signals across the district.
“We have to have all the fire department staff at the table and consult with the fire departments before we make a decision,” he said.
“A dedicated Telus line might be worth looking into over radio towers,” agreed West Bench Director Michael Brydon.
“Radio fails more often than ground lines.”
Emergency Services Supervisor Dale Kronebusch disagreed, saying that landlines were much more prone to failure.
“One car wreck into a hydro pole could do it,” (result in system failure) he said.
Siddon then asked if Telus had fibreoptics underground, to which Kronebusch answered in the affirmative.
“Well, there you are,” answered Siddon, but Kronebusch continued to disagree, citing the possibility of earthquake damage.
Summerland Director Bruce Hallquist also told the board that regional fire chiefs needed to have more input. He disagreed with Kronebush’s assessment of a recent chief’s meeting that “everyone went away happy.”
“Our chiefs are the ones in the business,” he concluded, “we need to listen to what they have to say.”