Esquimalt, View Royal and Colwood Fire crews were on the scene of a fire at Esquimalt First Nation on Jan. 21. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

West Shore fire departments working together in mutual aid

Departments can call on each other for help

Fire departments in the West Shore are working together to better serve their communities thanks to mutual aid agreements that have been signed in recent years.

Colwood and Langford fire departments renewed a mutual aid agreement with each other in the fall of 2018 and the agreement will last for five years. Meanwhile, View Royal and Colwood renewed their agreements about two years ago and the deal will last in perpetuity.

Mutual aid, according to Colwood Fire Chief John Cassidy, is a situation where agencies — in this case fire departments — can call on or help neighbouring agencies in times of need.

In the case of fire departments, they may call on each other to use their equipment or manpower, especially when departments are handling multiple calls at the same time.

“Mutual means mutual assurance, mutual dependency,” Cassidy said. “We depend on each other for help.”

Cassidy said when he first started working at Colwood Fire Rescue in 1999, it was rare for the department to get multiple calls at the same time.

However, as communities grow, so does the need for service.

RELATED: Central Saanich joining Greater Victoria integrated 911 dispatch centre

“Now we’re doing triple-headers as a regular course of business,” Cassidy said. “As the population grows, calls go up. That’s just the nature of the beast.”

Cassidy said being able to call other departments for mutual aid gives them the ability to handle emergencies where they may not have had enough resources to do so.

Colwood Fire Rescue has been able to keep up with the greater demands for service, according to Cassidy. He said having mutual aid policies helps them manage calls and keep up with population growth.

Previous mutual aid agreements between the fire departments included a fee for service where departments would charge each other for use of their engines and resources. The new agreements, however, have eliminated the fee as the fire chiefs attempt to build closer relationships between the departments.

“We all think if we’re in the rough and we need some help we need it now, we don’t care about billing,” Cassidy said. “The overall cost is negligible when it comes to public safety.”

The mutual aid agreement has also been extended to Metchosin and Highlands fire departments by Colwood.

READ MORE: House fire on Esquimalt First Nation sends one to hospital

Cassidy said taxpayers need not worry about the cost of these agreements, because he is confident they can manage to help each other and stay within their budgets.

“We’re trying to take small, incremental steps in the right direction and see if we can do it effectively, efficiently and do it within the existing budget,” Cassidy said. “I think we can do that.”

The departments will also be able to help each other out with technical rescues such as water rescues, confined space rescues and high angle rescues that may require ropes or a ladder.

A recent house fire on Esquimalt First Nation that sent one person to hospital was a situation where mutual aid was used. View Royal, Esquimalt and Colwood fire departments worked together to put out the blaze that took place on Jan. 20.

“The general public should be very glad that individual fire services are working very closely together…and that we can provide a highly efficient, effective quality of service to our jurisdiction in a cost-effective manner,” Cassidy said. “We’re all growing, we all live next to each other…the general public expects us to be working together.”

with files from Arnold Lim

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

James Bay street corner could house public berry patch

The James Bay Neighborhood Association is hoping to offer berries locals

High of 16 C for Thursday

Plus your weekend forecast

New commemorative loonie marking progress for LGBTQ2+ rights draws mixed response

Critics say coin’s date of 1969 ‘equality’ is misleading

PHOTOS: Slugfest at the 2019 Super Channel Championships

Pictures from day two of Boxing BC bouts this week

Time for round two of the Dunnet theatre seat sale

Fundraising committee looks to sell remaining seats Dave Dunnet Community Theatre at Oak Bay High

WATCH: Cougar saunters through Metchosin yard

Spring cougar sighting caught on camera

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

B.C., Ottawa talk 50/50 split on abandoned bus-route service

B.C. has paid $2 million on a bus service for the northern part of the province

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Island Cup set for East Sooke on May 3-5

Off-road racing event expected to attract over 50 racers

Most Read