More firefighters needed

The number of full-time firefighters in Vernon is lower than officials would like, but it won't be long before Vernon Fire Rescue is back up to full strength.

Interim Fire Chief David Lind said the department has six fewer firefighters than they should, but he expects the ranks to be bolstered by the end of the summer or early fall.

Lind stressed in no way have the depleted numbers put public safety at risk.

“We've had some situations within the department over the last little while that has left us short staffed,” said Lind. “We're working toward hiring career firefighters and that process is well underway.”
Lind said the department has enough personnel to cover the city and to fulfil mutual aid agreements with surrounding communities.

However, staffing levels will not allow the department to send firefighters to assist in the Central or South Okanagan areas.

“We're still in a position to support very close to home, but for longer deployments away from the city, we just don't have the staffing levels to accommodate that,” he said adding they will be hiring five to six firefighters.

“We are maintaining out staffing levels to protect the city of Vernon, what we are lacking is that extra capacity to send our folks away. We're in good shape, but we're a little thin right now. We are working to address that and it should be taken care of in short order.”

Lind said the department is getting applications from across Canada as well as from the local pool of volunteer firefighters who want to become career firefighters.

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