Potential fire dispatch changes causing some concern

A Fort St. John Fire Fighter runs the local 911 fire dispatch in Fort St. John

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – With the Regional District discussing changes about 9-1-1 calls, the City of Fort St. John is also voicing concerns about any changes that could be made to fire dispatch services.

As mentioned previously, Dawson Creek Fire Department provides dispatch services for 7 fire departments and handles around 700 calls per year. Costs for dispatching have gone up 22% from 2010 to 2016. Total costs have gone up from $186,000 to $238,000. Dawson Creek serves Arras, Chetwynd, Dawson Creek,  Moberly Lake, Peace Coupe, Tomslake as well as Tumbler Ridge.

Fort St. John Fire Department provides dispatch services for 4 fire departments and handles around 1,000 calls a year. Costs for dispatching have gone up as well 20% from 2010 to 2016. Total costs have gone up from $186,000 to $220,000. Fort St. John serves Charlie Lake, Fort St. John, Huston’s Hope and Taylor.

The PRRD is looking at changing the access point of 9-1-1 calls from Prince George to E-Comm, which is based out of Vancouver.

But there is also the potential of fire dispatch services being changed from the current model to a different model which could see another company dispatch fire calls to the region.

The discussion regarding fire dispatch was held in a private meeting on Thursday of last week after the PPRD committee of the whole and was not open to the public. Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman voiced her concerns that the information should be open during the committee of the whole meeting.

“I don’t think this goes into a closed meeting at all. I think it needs to be an open conversation, I see no reason.”

Mayor Ackerman questioned why it was still integrated into the presentation in the open meeting, despite not being able to talk about it.

Trish Morgan with the PRRD said in an email that the 9-1-1 calling is a separate contract from the fire dispatching service and she could not comment further on the fire dispatch changes.