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Province provides support to strengthen local fire departments

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 12:36 PDT, Fri September 22, 2023

Last Updated: 12:37 PDT, Fri September 22, 2023

Communities throughout British Columbia will see improved emergency response from their local fire departments as the province provides support to strengthen community firefighting capacity.

“Throughout this year’s unprecedented wildfire season, community and volunteer firefighters have stepped up and shown tremendous commitment, leadership and bravery,” said Premier David Eby. “Every day, we depend on firefighters and we need to ensure they have everything they need to do their life-saving work. That’s why we’re helping rural, First Nation and volunteer fire departments upgrade their equipment and access enhanced training. This will strengthen community firefighting capacity in every corner of our province and ensure all British Columbians get the help they need when disaster strikes.”

Most communities in B.C. rely on volunteer firefighters to protect people, homes and businesses when a fire breaks out. The province is helping boost the capacity of firefighters by providing access to enhanced training opportunities and more equipment.

The province is also providing funding for education campaigns aimed at teaching people how to prevent fires and stay safe. Together, these supports will build community capacity in preparing for and responding to emergencies.

“Many British Columbians live in communities where the bulk of their fire departments are made up of rural and volunteer firefighters," said Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general. “When fires happen, people rely on these volunteers and the fire crews at these departments to keep themselves and their families safe. By strengthening community firefighting capacity, we are ensuring that our province and the people who live here are protected in the face of an emergency.”

The funding has been divided into three portions:

  • $1.4 million has been provided to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities for community firefighting training and the purchase of new or replacement fire equipment such as fire hoses and first-aid kits;
  • $1.75 million has been provided to the Fire Chiefs’ Association of British Columbia to support rural communities and First Nation fire departments by providing regional access to joint fire training for fire services; and
  • $1.6 million has been provided to the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit for a targeted marketing campaign focused on segments of the population over-represented in fire-related incidents, such as youth and seniors.

This funding builds on the $6.3 million provided to more than 100 volunteer and composite fire departments earlier this year for equipment and training.

The B.C. government is committed to working with local governments, First Nations and municipal, provincial and federal partners to ensure that first responders have the tools and training they need to keep British Columbians safe from fires in communities throughout the province.

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