Monday, April 15, 2024

Vancouver Island village suspends firefighting services amid staff shortage

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The remote Vancouver Island village of Zeballos says it’s shuttering local firefighting services for the time being, and a staff shortage is to blame.

Village council voted to temporarily suspend the Village of Zeballos Volunteer Fire Department last Friday, noting council and staff are grappling with “a number of issues,” including a lack of workers.

A community notice from Mayor Julie Colborne notes the village’s fire chief position has been vacant for some time as firefighter roster numbers continue to dwindle. 

With protocols in place, locals are still urged to call 911 if they spot a blaze; however, “there will currently be no response to a fire callout,” explained Colborne.

“In the Village of Zeballos, firefighting services have historically been available through a volunteer fire department. The delivery of firefighting services through a volunteer model creates a number of challenges for the village,” she said.

Located west of Campbell River, Zeballos has just over 100 people, and officials encourage residents to look over their insurance policies to decide if they need to report the change to their insurer. 

To combat the firefighter shortage, the village is calling on volunteers to apply and join the local fire department, as Colborne pleads: “Please volunteer today and help be part of the solution.”

Colborne says the village is also hiring fire services consultants to offer additional insight on policies and procedures, including firefighter training levels and WorkSafeBC requirements.

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