Calls into Trail Fire Dispatch were up by 200 last year - or 12 per cent - compared to 2016. (Trail Times file photo)

RDKB emergency calls climb in 2017

Annual RDKB dispatch stats are provided to East End directors during budget deliberations

Calls into Trail Fire Dispatch were up by 200 last year – or 12 per cent – compared to 2016.

Providing life support until an ambulance arrives, known as first response, topped the list of emergency incidents again last year at Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) Fire Rescue. The total number of dispatched calls topped 1860 with 1094 of those being first responder incidents, according to Fire Chief Dan Derby’s 2017 summary.

For the first time in many years, the second highest number of emergency dispatches were not for alarms, but for motor vehicle incidents (MVIs), which were up by 31.

In 2017, regional fire crews attended 203 MVIs and 192 alarm call-outs, compared to the previous year totals of 172 and 186 respectively.

Another upward trend, not seen in a number of years, was calls related to fire.

Firefighters responded to 50 structure fires and 42 wildland fires last year, compared to, respectively, 27 and 34 in 2016.

The majority of all calls, or 1149, were in Trail. Incidents dispatched in Rossland increased by 63 to 259 which accounted for about 14 per cent of total incidents. Warfield numbers were up 25 to 93 calls dispatched through the village hall, and Genelle call-outs increased by a dozen to 47 incidents. Fruitvale remained steady at 227 dispatched incidents with Montrose being the only municipality where calls decreased. In all, 89 calls occurred in Montrose, compared to 98 in 2016.

The fire department provides annual statistics to the East End Services Committee during budget deliberations.

Implications from an increasing number of calls can affect the bottom line in a number of ways.

“Continued increases in call volumes have an impact on service costs, equipment maintenance and availability,” Chief Derby stated. “(As well as) volunteer firefighter ability to respond to incidents and workloads at the responder and manager levels.”

He added, “Statistical reporting aligns with the RDKB’s strategic goal to continue focusing on exceptional cost effective and efficient services by reviewing and measuring service performance.”

A big change to Trail Fire Dispatch is coming in a few months, when the City of Kelowna takes over the service. Last year the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) chose to end the 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Services contract with the RDKB, which resulted in a joint request for proposals for fire dispatch services.

Subsequently, the RDKB board approved the contract for provision of fire dispatch services between the Corporation of the City of Kelowna and the RDKB.

Regional fire rescue covers a vast territory that spans west to the Paulson Bridge on Highway 3, east to the junction of the Castlegar turn-off (Bombi) on Highway 3B, and north from Trail to China Creek.

Fourteen career firefighters, one training officer and more than 100 paid on-call firefighters provide fire protection and prevention services to approximately 20,000 people living in Rossland, Warfield, Trail and the Beaver Valley, including Areas A and B of the regional district.

The service operates out of six fire halls with nine engines, two command vehicles, an All Terrain Vehicle and a rescue boat.

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