Fire dispatch services for the Regional District of East Kootenay will officially be taken over by the City of Kelowna in the beginning of June.
Currently, Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services handles fire dispatching services for most of the RDEK, however, the contract expired in December, with the two organizations agreeing to a six-month extension to search for a 3rd party provider.
The Kelowna Fire Department already handles dispatch services for the Regional Districts of Central Okanagan and Okanagan Similkameen.
Sanford Brown, the Building and Protective Services Manager for the RDEK, noted that the switchover should be seamless once Kelowna takes over on May 30.
“We don’t expect any surprises or difficulties in getting the same degree of services that we had with Cranbrook than with Kelowna,” Brown said. “We have a really good team of people that are going through the project and we don’t expect to see any issues.
“Part of our RFP [Request for Proposal] was that the proposals that came in were very specific on whether they could hook up to our existing technology, and that was one of the pluses of Kelowna, is they had very similar technology as we had in Cranbrook, so they were able to assure us that they could hook up directly to our existing infrastructure.”
The five-year agreement between the two local government bodies will translate into a fee of $835,000 for the City of Kelowna, which will be paid out by contributions through RDEK member communities and electoral areas.
“We are able to provide the new service within our existing capacity,” said Travis Whiting, Deputy Chief of the City of Kelowna. “The selection of Kelowna Fire to dispatch for the RDEK is a reflection of the professional and efficient work of our dispatchers in support of local first responders.”
Brown added that there shouldn’t be any concerns about dispatching services being handled by a community in the Okanagan—500 kilometres away from Cranbrook.
When someone makes a 911 call, it’s handled by E-Comm in Surrey to determine police, fire or ambulance. When the caller says fire dispatch services is needed, the call is routed to Kelowna Fire Department. From there, the call is routed to the appropriate fire department in the RDEK depending on where the incident has occurred.
Brown explained, using Sparwood as an example.
“So, if they see it’s in Sparwood, they would dispatch the Sparwood fire department and then they would continually monitor and talk with the Sparwood fire department through that event,” Brown said. “So they have very up-to-date mapping systems, so that’s the same system that Kelowna has, or very similar, so it’s a very technical, accurate mapping.
“…It will make no difference if it’s in Cranbrook or Kelowna, the public isn’t going to notice any difference.”