911 transition problems continue

Departments continue to experience dispatch issues as new service enters fourth month

The regional district’s cost cutting measure to reassign 911 service to Kelowna dispatch late last year continues to generate controversy as recipients of the service deal with changes to the level of service they were used to under the former Penticton 911 service.

Stories continue to circulate out of the regional district fire departments regarding directional miscues, poor quality radio transmissions and decreased service levels. Most recently, several departments were subject to the loss of the twice daily radio checks that had been the norm of the former 911 service. One excuse heard was that Kelowna dispatch was “too busy” to conduct them, and arbitrarily dropped them until last week, when it appears that numerous complaints forced the radio checks to be reinstated.

Changes to the burning permit process has left fire departments in the dark as to when burning permits are being activated in their fire protection areas, which effectively negates the whole purpose of having a permitting process; without a lot of extra work on the part of the department, it will now be much easier for illegal burns to go undetected.

One could argue that  the change over to Kelowna 911 is still  in the transition phase. It’s still possible that these problems will eventually give way to a service that everyone is comfortable with. What isn’t comforting is the regional district’s seeming lack of communication with the public regarding these transition issues.

It is the taxpayers of the region who pay, not only for the service, but for those who manage it. They have a right to be informed  – at every step of the way – as to what the issues are, and the steps being taken to resolve them.

It’s all about accountabilty.