Pitt Meadows fire chief Don Jolley. (files)

Letter: Pitt Meadows fire department’s priority is safety

Mutual-aid agreement between Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge did not fail.

Editor, The News:

Re: Letter: Thanks to Maple Ridge fire department ‘for bailing Pitt out,’ and More paid firefighters in Pitt Meadows needed: Dingwall, and New Year’s Eve fire at Pitt Meadows sawmill.

Recently, articles and a letter to the editor have been published in The News about Pitt Meadows Fire and Rescue, specifically in relation to a fire that occurred on New Year’s Eve.

Following this news story, there have been discussions on social media that may be causing concern for some citizens. Misleading statements have been made regarding the level of fire and rescue service that the citizens of Pitt Meadows receive and the safety of our firefighters.

Pitt Meadows Fire and Rescue has been, and continues to be an outstanding service. Our foremost priority is the safety of our citizens and our firefighters.

To ensure that citizens are accurately informed about the services we provide, some important facts:

• Pitt Meadows Fire and Rescue has a total of 37 firefighting personnel (32 paid on-call volunteers and five full-time career);

• all five full-time career staff work and respond weekdays during business hours, all are fully qualified and highly experienced, and all Pitt Meadows fire department personnel, career and paid-on- call volunteers, are trained to, and are certified at, the same level of qualifications as all full-time fire service personnel in B.C.;

• Pitt Meadows performed detailed fire safety inspections in 91 per cent of all public and commercial buildings in 2017, and provided fire and life safety education sessions to 1,490 citizens of all ages;

• Pitt Meadows Fire and Rescue and all its firefighters are fully compliant with all Worksafe B.C. and Office of the Fire Commissioner of B.C. requirements for policy, procedures, occupational health and safety, risk management, equipment, protective clothing, and training of firefighters;

• Pitt Meadows has fire sprinkler protection at a level unprecedented in British Columbia – every home and building in the South Harris and Bonson area has fire sprinklers, as well as most multi-family and commercial structures community-wide, while all new home construction in Pitt Meadows now requires fire sprinklers;

• under our mutual-aid agreement, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows fire departments are able to request the other to attend incidents or provide community coverage when they are challenged, as required – this happens in both communities a couple of times a year.

For example, in November 2017, Pitt Meadows Fire and Rescue Service covered Maple Ridge 911 calls for fire service with two trucks for several hours during their fire at Mussallem Motors.

On New Year’s Eve, as a precaution, a single crew of four Maple Ridge firefighters were requested to assist Pitt Meadows Fire and Rescue.

The sawmill fire was well controlled by the mill staff prior to fire department arrival.

Pitt Meadows Fire and Rescue crews completed the extinguishment, as would be expected.

Maple Ridge firefighters provided some brief assistance and were released back to their community in about 30 minutes.

The model did not fail.

Rather, it performed exactly as designed, and has done many times before in both communities, with both fire departments supporting each other to the betterment of all citizens.

This clarification is intended to enhance education and alleviate any concerns generated by recent misinformation.

• More information is available www.pittmeadows.bc.ca or www.pittmeadowsfire.com.

Fire Chief Don Jolley, Assistant Chief Mike Larsson and Assistant Chief Brad Perrie

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