Not enough firefighters?

A house fire like this is always a spectacle, but onlookers at a blaze in Vernon on Saturday were in for something different.

“Hey you! Give 'em a hand,” shouts a member of the Vernon Fire Department to residents standing around the fire.

The captain on duty decided to solve his staffing issues by turning to members of the public as instant deputy firefighters.

"It’s not ideal. It’s not something we try to rely on. But when your neighbour's house is burning down, you probably want to do something,” said Vernon Fire Chief Keith Green.

Still, some observers say the call for the public’s help seems to have come from a crew that seemed to be really struggling.

“Not enough firefighters for sure,” said Hank Vanderkamp, a witness who watched the scene unfold. 

“It looked to me that it was too much for them.”

The union representing Vernon fire fighters said there may have been a reason for that. A cost cutting measure that allows the fire department to leave as few as two professional fire fighters with their main truck.

“Basically city hall has put the pressure on the fire chief to make this decision by not allowing him enough resources,” said Brent Bond of the Vernon Professional Firefighters Association.

The chief admits the current system is not ideal, but he understands the financial climate that brought it about.

“Every fire chief would probably want more resources. It's just a matter of whether your tax payers can afford it or if your council thinks your tax payers can afford it," said Green.

No one was hurt in Saturday’s fire, but some say it was a graphic reminder that sometimes when you cut costs, you run the risk of getting burned. 

-- With files from CTV


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