Mayor's Report - September 2005


2005 FIRE PROTECTION UPDATE

The summer of 2003 went into the BC record books as one of the worst forest fire seasons in the past 100 years. It was a reminder of the vulnerability faced by communities at the interface with forested areas. Although the 2005 fire season was fairly good from the perspective of the forests, a fire started in August by careless hikers on the slopes of neighbouring Eagle Mountain persisted for a week, and again should give us pause to consider the possibilities. For the past eight years, Council has made fire protection capital expenditures a priority, and my report this month is an update to the community regarding our on-going fire protection projects.

Mayor Ralph Drew

In 1998 the Village acquired a Crown Land lease located at the southeast (top) end of Tatlow Road and completed Phase One of the Tatlow Road fire hydrant system with installation of a 50,000-gallon storage tank connected to the first hydrant at Main Avenue. In 1999 Phase Two of the Tatlow Road system was completed, which was the “backbone” water line down Tatlow Road to provide hydrants at Bedwell Bay Road and Marine Avenue. Also completed as part of Phase Two was the extension along Bedwell Bay Road that provided fire hydrants at Watson Road and Senkler Road.

When examining the work priorities earlier this year, it was decided to complete extension of the fire hydrant system along Bedwell Bay Road in order to take advantage of increased GVTA funding that result from a road surface upgrade. Engineering design and project tendering for the sections from Tatlow Road to Kelly Road, and from Kelly Road to Main Avenue, also identified further cost savings by constructing both sections at once. This Phase Four work was completed at a cost of $179,000 for the 500 meters of water main installation plus another $56,000 for the 700 meters of asphalt road surface overlay. Belcarra’s fire hydrant system is now 90% complete!

The engineering design for Phase Three of the Tatlow Road fire hydrant system along Marine Avenue from Tatlow Road to Young Road was completed in 2001, and construction of the section from Tatlow Road to 3752 Marine Avenue was completed in the summer of 2002. Work on the 300-meter section from 3752 to 3924 Marine Avenue was completed in 2004. The engineering design for the final phase of the Tatlow Road system from 3924 Marine Avenue to West Road will be completed in 2006, and construction of the final section of the fire hydrant system is scheduled for the summer of 2007.

In 1999 Council acquired a license from GVRD Parks to locate a water storage tank on park property, and was able to complete Phase One of the Dutchman’s Creek fire hydrant system. Phase One involved installation of a 50,000-gallon storage tank adjacent to the Belcarra Water Users water tanks at Dutchman’s Creek, along with the first hydrant on Belcarra Bay Road at Salish Road. In 2001 Council completed Phase Two of the Dutchman’s Creek system that extended the fire protection water main along Belcarra Bay Road from Salish Road to Bedwell Bay Road, and also placed a fire hydrant on Turtlehead Road. Phase Three of the Dutchman’s Creek system from Salish Road to Whiskey Cove Lane was constructed in 2003, which provided coverage to the end of Combe Lane, and completed the fire hydrant system for the southwest portion of Belcarra.

A total of $1,150,000 has been spent since work commenced on the fire hydrant system eight years ago. It is anticipated that another two years and a further $150,000 will be required to complete these important improvements for the protection of our community. It has been a large undertaking, but by applying a long-term perspective and planning for a series of projects constructed over a number of years, Council is achieving the overall objective on a pay-as-you-go basis.

As result of these fire protection initiatives, the municipality was advised in 2000 that the Fire Underwriters Survey has reclassified Belcarra’s “Dwelling Protection Grade” from “Semi-Protected” to “Fully Protected”. As a consequence, property owners located within 300 meters (1000 feet) of a fire hydrant will realize savings on the cost of fire insurance in the range of $200 to $300 per year depending on the insured value of their home. While the primary objective of having a fire department and fire hydrants is the safety and protection of the community, it’s nice to also realize the added benefit of cost savings on one’s fire insurance.

Our fire protection “corner stone”, of course, is the Sasamat Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) which has provided an outstanding level of service since it started in 1977. The SVFD is debt-free, new training facilities were completed in 1997, and we are now benefiting from a long-standing policy of replacing equipment and vehicles on a pay-as-you-go basis. In 1998 the SVFD acquired its newest pumper truck at a cost of $300,000 fully funded from the Equipment Replacement Reserve, and in 2004 SVFD took delivery of a new “Command & Rescue” vehicle, also at a cost of $300,000. Again, this purchase was fully funded from the Equipment Replacement Reserve.

Communications is one of the most important considerations for emergency service providers such as the SVFD. Communications is the backbone for timely coordination and delivery of help and resources. The ability to effectively communicate, both internally and with other agencies, is therefore critical to emergency service delivery. In an effort to enhance SVFD’s ability to effectively communicate, a number of objectives have been pursued over the past year:

  • Transfer of the SVFD dedicated radio frequency from a secondary to a primary communication channel;
  • Establishment of a Communications Reserve to fund future needed equipment acquisition and upgrading;
  • Integration of Anmore and Belcarra Emergency Preparedness communications needs into SVFD operational procedures;
  • Establishment of base radio communication centers at both the Anmore and Belcarra Municipal Offices;
  • Regular and systematic replacement of radios and pagers that meet Industry Canada specifications for future “Narrow Banding”;
  • Promoting simplex VHF radio communications, which do not rely on any kind of infrastructure or external support systems, for improved reliability and performance;
  • Installation of digital call recording equipment for risk management and documentation purposes;
  • Incorporating mobile command and control procedures into SVFD’s new Command & Rescue vehicle;
  • SVFD Officer Certification in ISC-100, which is the BC Emergency Response Management System.

By pursuing the above strategy for communications enhancement, the SVFD in essence becomes a “free agent” capable of transferring its dispatch requirements to the agency that best satisfies the expectations of both the SVFD and the community. It’s all about providing emergency response service to the community, and that is the basis for all SVFD decisions.

RALPH DREW
MAYOR


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Village of Belcarra
4084 Bedwell Bay Road
Belcarra, BCCANADA
V3H 4P8

E-mail: belcarra@belcarra.ca
Tel: (604) 937-4100
Fax: (604) 939-5034
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