Letters: Firefighter shortage putting city at risk

Turning blind eye is putting city at risk

Penticton firefighters are running short-staffed and the situation is becoming critical. Presently undermanned by two firefighters, two more are slated to retire this year. These are entry level jobs.

There has been some discussion on closing fire hall No. 2. This will result in increased insurance premiums for anyone living more than 240 seconds from a fire hall. Building code standards require an overall response time of 10 minutes, 90 per cent of the time. Anyone living outside that 10-minute window will see their insurance rates go up.

At the time of the Behr report in 2012 firefighters were at their optimum levels. Response time for six firefighters in the 10-minute window has gone down from 95 per cent to its present low level of only 53 per cent of the time.

WorkSafe regulations require six firefighters and two trucks within ten minutes or firefighters have to withdraw from within a burning building. They now have five firefighters to a call. WorkSafe regulations require withdrawal of firefighters from inside burning buildings at that level. Volunteers cannot meet the required level of response.

The Behr report recommended a review of deputy chiefs as one deputy chief who managed the call centre and did inspections had been laid off at the time of the dispatch turnover to Kelowna.

Deputy chiefs are on call 24 hours a day. This reduced fire inspectors from three to two. Last year one was sick and we were reduced to one fire inspector.

No training officer is available to ensure certification for high angle rescue, auto extraction; medical emergencies etc.

The Behr report recommended deputy chief duties be evaluated for service level deficiencies and recommendations on what is required. This has not been done.

The irresponsible actions of Penticton council are not only putting the lives of firefighters at risk, they are playing Russian roulette with taxpayers.

Hiding their head in the sand is what this council does best. Whether it is their inadequate handling of the Challenge dilemma, the current hotel tax crisis, or the inability of this city council to follow something as simple as their mandate or infrastructure, this council is stalemated.

Elvena Slump



We are paying the price

We’re paying. Have we all forgotten that the politicians are paid by the taxpayers? They work for us. When did they become more important than the people that pay them? Honesty, honour, ethics and common sense, not words used around any political  office. That  puts the price too high.

This federal government has wasted thousands of dollars on new planes, corrupt senators, perks and pensions and lovely renovated offices for their own use.

They send our young to fight or try to keep the peace with questionable equipment in horrid circumstances. These service people come home broken, in mind or spirit or  body. They are then given minimum care and support. No perks, crap pensions.

Now the offices are being closed. What, need more money for your own carpeting  Harper or are you paying bills for one of your flunkies?

E-mail your politician dan.albas@parl.gc.ca. Keep veterans offices open. Improve veterans benefits.

Lynn Crassweller



Thank you to all

On behalf of the Penticton Harm Reduction Peers, Penticton & District Community Resources Society and Penticton Public Health Nursing (IH) we would like to thank the businesses and organizations who supported or donated door prizes for Soupapalooza on Jan. 16.

Soupapalooza gathered about 20 organizations and service providers in a vibrant, welcoming atmosphere to showcase their programs to participants. Over 70 people attended; most were lunch patrons at the Soupateria or part of the street-involved community.

They were able to share information with service providers about  their health concerns and identify  services needed locally.

The Soupapalooza organizing group would like to thank: St Saviors Church, Soupateria board & volunteers, Dragons Den, Tim Hortons, Elite Restaurant, DJ’s Convenience Store, Downtown Penticton Association, MTF Price Matters, Sunrise Pharmacy, Peoples Pharmacy, Knights Pharmacy, Smart Shopper, Real Canadian Wholesale Club and Okanagan Cosmatology Institute.

Pam Rorie and Melanie Gale



Hospital funding elusive

There seems to be a great reluctance to find the money for expansion to the Penticton Regional Hospital.

When the event centre was built, we were subjected to a whole week of two whole page ads promoting the merits of the project.

We were told that the cost would be a mere $36 million. Like magic, as soon as the referendum passed, the cost spiraled up to over twice that much and does not include the price of advertising nor the interest on borrowed money. Now the money needed for hospital improvements is all gone.

It is a matter of placing your wants ahead of our needs. I think that if the authorities really wanted to scratch up the money, they would find a way.

Gerry Lepine



Name not recognizable

(re: Former Canucks goalie McLean among group getting hall call, Western News, Jan. 29)

I respectfully beg to differ with Bruce Judd.  I didn’t recognize the name Pat Price and yet I once was interested in hockey.  Not everyone follows hockey for that matter so it is rather presumptuous of him to say that, “Everyone knows what Price accomplished.”

Yes, that is a small error but it is that kind of thinking, that kind of conversation that probably keeps hockey in its place of relative unpopularity and unknown compared to other sports where perhaps publicity is better handled.

Another thing that has turned me off of sports is the lack of professionalism and sportsmanship of many players whether in hockey, football. Their poorly handled interviews with the press also have been a reason.

Patrick Longworth

Okanagan Falls


Nothing conservative about Fortis conservation rate

Lest the BCUC’s review of Fortis’ conservation rate slips by quietly allowing its continued application I would like to refresh our memories:

1. The fundamental error of the “conservation rate” is its myopic view at the use of electricity, instead of being guided by sincere environmental concerns. The only incentive the two-tiered structure could be to those using electricity for heating is to switch to natural gas, a cheap, polluting, non-renewable fuel that should be discouraged to use, rather than be extracted like there is no tomorrow.

2. Electricity is the only form of energy with the potential to be renewable and non-polluting. Its use should be encouraged rather than penalized.

Paired with modern heat pump technology and decentralized photovoltaic generation electricity is the most environmentally friendly way to heat your house known to mankind. That there is no political will in B.C. to put meaningful subsidies in place to encourage its adoption is sad enough. But that Fortis, with its conservation rate is actively penalizing its use makes me shake my head in disbelief.

3. In a response to my complaint Corey Sinclair of Fortis quotes, “It is the overriding intent of the (net-metering) program that customers gain the ability to offset their own consumption with a clean and renewable resource.”

Yet, instead of offsetting Fortis first credits the power received and then charges for the power delivered.

If the latter amount is above the 1,600 KWh threshold that amount is charged at the high rate, even if the net consumption is significantly below. A creative interpretation of the terms net and offset, isn’t it?

With or without net metering the conservation rate is ill conceived and I urge the BCUC to not allow its continuation.

It is not the BCUC’s place to encourage sound environmental policies: that’s what our politicians, guided by the electorate, can keep neglecting. But demanding sound billing practices from the utilities is.

Florian Maurer




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