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Firefighter fitness part of the plan in Oak Bay

The Oak Bay fire department’s new strategic plan includes a section on enhancing health and wellness, but implementing it will not heavily impact taxpayers, insists the fire chief.

“It’s not simply about guys being physically fit,” said Dave Cockle.

Dealing with post-traumatic stress, having structured training opportunities and creating individual fitness plans are part of the proposed strategy.

“It’s about occupational safety, how we do our jobs, the physical and mental aspect of what we do.”

The chief recently submitted to Oak Bay council a document titled Strategic Directions Action Plan, for the 2014 budget year. It outlines 10 things the department needs to work on and how to accomplish its goals, of which boosting health and wellness opportunities topped the list.

Other items on the list include having a training schedule, succession plan, improving management and union relations, leadership development, using technology to make things efficient, improving information technology in the department and a training schedule.

“There are new certifications and standards coming out all the time and we need to make sure our staff are on top of that,” Cockle said. “I don’t know the cost of that, but it’s something that will come out at budget time, next year.”

He added the report is really a business plan for an organization with goals and results to be updated regularly.

The list also mentioned equipment priorities, but the municipality isn’t worried about the financial impact when it comes to replacing aging equipment.

“We’ve had a plan in terms of equipment replacement as long as I can remember,” said Mayor Nils Jensen. “We actually set money aside so we can be in a good position to renew equipment. If the fire department needs to replace something that costs $700,000, $800,000, we have the money.”

Jensen said it’s too early to speculate how much more money fire department will need to implement its plans as no 2014 budget proposal has been submitted. However, he is aware that eventually money will be needed for the upkeep of the aging firehall.

The strategic plan report cost  $1,500 to produce and included input from all Oak Bay firefighters.

reporter@vicnews.com

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