Province provides support to strengthen local fire departments
Sept. 22, 2023
VANCOUVER – Communities throughout British Columbia will see improved emergency response from their local fire departments as the Province provides support to strengthen community firefighting capacity.
“Throughout this year’s unprecedented wildfire season, community and volunteer firefighters have stepped up and shown tremendous commitment, leadership and bravery,” said Premier David Eby. “Every day, we depend on firefighters and we need to ensure they have everything they need to do their life-saving work. That’s why we’re helping rural, First Nation and volunteer fire departments upgrade their equipment and access enhanced training. This will strengthen community firefighting capacity in every corner of our province and ensure all British Columbians get the help they need when disaster strikes.”
Most communities in B.C. rely on volunteer firefighters to protect people, homes and businesses when a fire breaks out. The Province is helping boost the capacity of firefighters by providing access to enhanced training opportunities and more equipment.
The Province is also providing funding for education campaigns aimed at teaching people how to prevent fires and stay safe. Together, these supports will build community capacity in preparing for and responding to emergencies.
“Many British Columbians live in communities where the bulk of their fire departments are made up of rural and volunteer firefighters,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “When fires happen, people rely on these volunteers and the fire crews at these departments to keep themselves and their families safe. By strengthening community firefighting capacity, we are ensuring that our province and the people who live here are protected in the face of an emergency.”
The funding has been divided into three portions:
- $1.4 million has been provided to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities for community firefighting training and the purchase of new or replacement fire equipment such as fire hoses and first-aid kits;
- $1.75 million has been provided to the Fire Chiefs’ Association of British Columbia to support rural communities and First Nation fire departments by providing regional access to joint fire training for fire services; and
- $1.6 million has been provided to the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit for a targeted marketing campaign focused on segments of the population over-represented in fire-related incidents, such as youth and seniors.
This funding builds on the $6.3 million provided to more than 100 volunteer and composite fire departments earlier this year for equipment and training.
The B.C. government is committed to working with local governments, First Nations and municipal, provincial and federal partners to ensure that first responders have the tools and training they need to keep British Columbians safe from fires in communities throughout the province.
Art Sanderson, executive director of the Volunteer Firefighters Association of BC –
“The funding the Province is providing to support firefighters, particularly those in rural and remote communities, is critical for the survival of volunteer fire services in British Columbia. Volunteer fire services cover almost 80% of the land base and with wildfires and more people moving into rural areas, funding for training and equipment is needed. This year’s funding and the live-fire training project is a great step forward.”
- A composite fire department is a fire department that has a mix of paid and volunteer firefighters.
- Joint fire training increases access to fire training in rural areas that are not within a cost-effective travel distance of training facilities.
- The Office of the Fire Commissioner’s (OFC) mandate is to minimize the loss of life, injury and damage to property from fire by administering and enforcing B.C.’s fire safety legislation.
- The OFC leads provincial fire prevention and fire reporting programs, promotes fire safety awareness and establishes minimum training standards for fire services personnel.
Information about the $6.3 million for equipment and training provided in February 2023 can be found here:
Communities benefit from funding for firefighting equipment, training | BC Gov News
For information about the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund, visit the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ website:
For information about the Office of the Fire Commissioner, visit:
Deputy Communications Director
Office of the Premier
Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General