Fort St. James fire chief is concerned about the lack of participation at the recent Sowchea Bay Fire Hall Open House.
“The Sowchea Bay Fire Hall desperately needs individuals having previous firefighting experience to volunteer to keep the fire hall operating successfully,” said Fire Chief Steven DeRousie in an email statement to the Courier.
The open house was held Nov. 28 and representatives included RDBN director Tom Greenaway, Regional District Fire Chief Jason Blackwell, Fire Captain Lyn (Raymond) Ouellette, Firefighter Rob Clarke and Protective Services Assistant Nancy Schlamp.
The intent of the open house was to answer questions the area residents have regarding the status of their fire hall, primarily to attract potential new recruits, DeRousie stated.
Sowchea Bay fire hall has lost an additional member at the end of November, he said, adding, there won’t be enough firefighters available in Luck Bay to respond safely to fire calls. As a result, a truck will have to be dispatched from Fort St. James as the first responding crew, he added.
Three members of the public attended the open house. And while two applications were obtained, DeRousie said it is insufficient as new probationary firefighters will take two to three years to become fully trained.
“And it does not satisfy the requirement for a minimum of 10 fully trained firefighters we need to keep the fire hall operating succesfully and effectively,” he added.
The fire department needs a minimum of ten volunteers from within 8 km of the fire hall and the department is currently at two fully trained members.
As a result of the lack of fire protection services, some residents in the area have experienced a 70 percent increase in their fire insurance premium, now costing them approximately $4500 annually on top of fire protection taxes, DeRousie wrote.
“Having a properly staffed volunteer fire hall could cut this taxation in half or better!”
Applications are available at Suspenders General Store, the Fort St. James Fire Hall, and the Fort St. James District Office.