Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

Representation on the Regional District of Nanaimo’s fire services advisory committee has expanded to include service areas not operated by the RDN.

A new terms of reference for the advisory committee was approved by the RDN board of directors at their April 23 meeting. Those terms expand membership to all 16 fire service areas within the RDN boundary, including the Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department and Fire Protection Improvement District. Previously, the committee consisted of electoral area-only fire services members and all electoral area directors. Of the 16 fire service areas, two are RDN administrated and operated volunteer fire departments; four are volunteer fire department (VFD) societies; one is RDN funded and improvement district operated; four are municipal VFDs; and five are improvement district VFDs.

Fire Chief Will Sprogis and the improvement district board chair or chair-appointed member will sit on the fire services advisory committee for Gabriola along with Electoral Area B Director Vanessa Craig. The committee’s role is to report to elected officials on fire dispatch, fire services response, fire protection and prevention within the areas encompassed by the RDN.

Sprogis is pleased with the updates and the ability for Gabriola’s fire service to have a voice at the committee level. The Gabriola department has not had much involvement at a consultation level with the RDN in the past, according to Sprogis. The change will give fire chiefs more input into decisions that can affect the department, such as dispatch contracts. Sprogis also expects there will be a benefit to being able to discuss regional issues such as emergency planning and FireSmart grants.

While each fire service area will have a vote related to regional issues that come to the committee, decisions specific to fire departments/services within electoral areas will be voted upon only by eligible voting members of that electoral area. The committee meets twice a year and the next meeting is May 8.

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