The CRD Planning and Protective Services Committee seek a more specific costing model for potential regional fire dispatch service after a staff report suggested it is not only feasible but could mean cost savings.
“Without exemption, fire leaders in the region stated that there would be significant operation al and economy of scale benefits to the establishment of a regional fire dispatch system ultimately leading to improved emergency response and firefighter safety,” the conclusion says. “The establishment of a single regional fire dispatch centre under a unified governance structure would align fire operations in the region with the appropriate mandate, realize significant cost savings and efficiencies.”
The report came about after a heated debate during the CRD board meeting in December. At that time the board agreed to gather information on establishing a single regional fire dispatch centre a notion put forward by Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen who was absent from the recent Planning and Protective Services Committee meeting.
The CRD is also building a South Island Communications Centre through 2018 to house a unified 911 call answer and police dispatch centre that meets post-disaster standards. The 13,000-square-foot, two-storey building at 4219 Commerce Circle in Saanich will feature a communications centre in an open workspace concept. The 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week operation will also be equipped with redundancies for all mechanical and electrical.
Construction started this year with completion expected in 2019. There are no current plans to build fire dispatch into that centre.
Earlier this month, Colwood, Esquimalt, View Royal, North Saanich and Sidney announced plans to contract fire dispatch services from Surrey rather than Saanich as per their current agreement. The five communities started to search for alternatives in late 2017 and early 2018, after Saanich announced it would double its charge in the face of financial pressures. The District of Saanich says it can no longer afford to subsidize service to smaller municipalities.
Oak Bay is also considering options as its contract expires this year and expects to see a similar rise in associated costs.
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