A renewed agreement between the Village of Burns Lake and the Village of Fraser Lake will ensure each can rely on emergency help from the other when required.
The agreement which covers fire fighting and other emergency services is for five years and is a renewal of a similar five-year agreement crafted in 2013.
“The agreement came about after the 2012 Babine mill explosion,” said Burns Lake protective services director Rob Krause.
“Although there were informal [aid] agreements in place prior to that, we were advised that we should formalize these agreements.”
Similar agreements exist between fire departments elsewhere in the province and Burns Lake has ones with Houston, Telkwa, Smithers and Granise.
The increasing specialization of emergency services in preparation for any number of situations makes it virtually impossible for smaller jurisdictions to provide adequate resources for each type of emergency and is one of the key reasons emergency services departments are turning to mutual aid agreements.
In the case of Burns Lake Fire and Rescue, aside from firefighting, the department has an ice rescue team and specially trained firefighters who could assist in fighting wildfires.
There are no financial implications to the agreement with Fraser Lake and other municipalities but the agencyy requesting help is responsible for an extraordinary costs of the responding agency.
That’s different than the agreement with the Bulkley Nechako regional district which is fee for service, requiring the department to respond within the designated coverage area, Krause added.
The request for assistance is triggered by the fire chief or senior offiicial responsible for fire services contacting his or her counterpart after determining responding to an emergency is beyond his or her own resources.
“During the 2012 Babine mill explosion, Houston Fire Department did respond to assist with our efforts at the sawmill, and Fraser Lake was on standby if more resources were required,” said Krause.
Burns Lake Fire and Rescue also responds to highway accidents under the authority of Emergency Management B.C. with a coverage area approximaely 30 kilometres to the east of the village boundaries, 25 kilometres to the west and 75 kilometres to the south, said Krause.