Residents from across the Charlie Lake area turned out, Wednesday, to provide input on the future of their local fire department and what they want or expect out of their fire protection services.

Several residents questioned why the fire department’s governance model had to change and wondered what changes they might see to both their insurance and taxes. A few residents stated that they are in favour of paying slightly higher taxes to avoid paying double their home insurance rates if the area acquired unprotected status.

Dave Mitchell and Associates Ltd. is the consulting firm hired by the Peace River Regional District to look into various governance models for the Charlie Lake Fire Department. The consultants have been conducting interviews with everyone from the firefighters to residents and regional district officials.

We wanted to wait to hear from all parties involved in the fire department before we made any specific recommendations to the District, says President Dave Mitchell.

However, the consultants are on a deadline and must submit a draft report to the Regional District by the end of the month.

Currently, the Peace River Regional District contracts out fire protection services in the area to the Charlie Lake/Grandhaven Fire Protection Society. However, the PRRD terminated its agreement with the Society, giving one year’s notice, until March 31, 2012, to continue running the department. After that time, the PRRD will be taking over the management of the fire department.

One of the main problems the fire department has faced recently is a shortage of daytime volunteers.

Yet, Mitchell says the Charlie Lake Fire Department is not alone and its problems are similar to those that other volunteer departments are facing across the province.

For many residents, the situation came down to cost and wanting to see cost comparisons for the various potential governance models before providing further input. Mitchell says those costs are dependent on the Regional District.

PRRD Chair Karen Goodings says she expects the District will hold further meetings to review the potential governance models and obtain additional public input before any decisions are made.