Dave Mitchell & Associates Ltd. conducted a Fire Serves Review for the Village of Lytton that was adopted for implementation on October 12, 2022.
- July 26, 2023: View the July 26, 2023 Fire Services Review Update – Council Presentation or view the presentation on the meeting recording.
- October 2022: The Village submitted a $30,000 grant application to UBCM to assist with Prior Learning Assessments with Fire Department volunteers – a priority recommendation from the Fire Services Review.
- September 28, 2022: View the September 28, 2022 Fire Services Review – Council Presentation or view the presentation on the meeting recording.
The Department is facing significant challenges in terms of recovery from the catastrophic June 2021 fire in which they lost their fire hall, one fire truck, all of their training and other records and most of their personal protective equipment.
Despite all this, the Department has continued to operate utilizing borrowed space in the BC Wildfire Service depot in Lytton, gradually replacing some of their equipment like air packs and a compressor and continuing to train when they are able.
Goal of the Fire Services Review
The goal of the Fire Services Review is to provide a roadmap for how the Department can be fully restored to ensure that it can provide effective fire and other emergency responses for the Village and the wider service area, which includes two First Nations.
The Department operates from a single fire hall in Lytton with a cadre of volunteer firefighters, providing services within the Village and to two neighbouring First Nations. The Department also provides first medical responder services within the Village and its other coverage areas, as well as road rescue to an extensive area.
The challenges facing the Department are unique. In addition to the challenge of meeting the required regulatory and operational obligations, it is faced with essentially rebuilding itself.
The Department lost all of its records in the 2021 fire, as well its fire hall, water tender and a range of other equipment. Its membership was disrupted by the partial destruction of the Village, and its ordinary training and recruiting processes were adversely affected. As such, notwithstanding the experience of its members, it is not readily able to prove their training and qualifications, and is working to re-establish its administration and related processes.
Fire services in this province are also required to comply with the Fire Services Act, which is expected to be superseded by the Fire Safety Act. The latter statute passed third reading in the Legislature in 2016, but has yet been proclaimed in force. The Fire Safety Act will introduce the concept of risk-based inspections, will implement minimum training requirements for fire inspectors and fire investigators.
Priority items for the Department are significant, many of which require immediate attention.
- The Department requires a fire hall to replace the one destroyed in the fire which was entirely insufficient for current purposes.
- The Department requires replacement of the water tender lost in the fire as well as possible replacement of the current rescue vehicle.
- It is recommended that the Department consider a quick response engine, often described as a Type-3 engine, to enable a rapid response, potentially off-road, in any future interface situations.
The destruction of the Department’s records means that prior-learning assessments (“PLAs”) will be necessary to confirm the qualifications of the members. This step is necessary to meet both Playbook and WorkSafe BC requirements. Complete, accurate training records are a mandatory requirement for any fire department operating at any of the three levels of service. For this reason, completing the PLAs for each member is a high priority.
As part of its effort to re-establish its administrative systems, Department will require a records management system to accurately track training activities, as well as equipment and apparatus maintenance.
The Department is also required to operate a regular system of fire inspections of public and commercial buildings, as well as undertake and report on fire investigations. The relevant records were also destroyed by the fire and, as a priority, the Department should complete an assessment of all properties required to be inspected and then to conduct an inspection of each to provide a baseline.
The Department responds a significant distance from the Village for incidents requiring road rescue and provides emergency responses to two neighbouring First Nations and the Thompson Nicola Regional District under the terms of service agreements. Copies of the service agreements were not available for review. If these agreements also were lost in the fire, then it will be a priority to recreate them, as they constitute the fundamental authorization required by the Department to undertake extra-jurisdictional responses, and define the basis on which the services are provided (including the range of services offered, the compensation being paid, and the allocation of risk between the parties).
Similarly, the service establishment and operational bylaw for the Department needs to be redeveloped to define the Department’s operational powers and responsibilities, and to set out its fundamental administrative structure.
The Department occasionally provided mutual aid responses to neighbouring jurisdictions, including Spences Bridge and, historically, to Boston Bar. No mutual aid agreements were available for review. Such agreements, however, are necessary to authorize the Department’s extra-jurisdictional operations. These agreements should be obtained, reviewed and updated to ensure the grant of powers is clear for the Department.