reprinted with permission from the Otter Point Volunteer Fire Department page on Facebook
The Otter Point Fire Protection and Emergency Response Service Commission has approved an increase to the 2016 capital budget in order to extend the life of the Otter Point Fire hall. The Commission is budgeting for mid-life upgrades to the fire hall that was built in 1980 and updated in 2000. The first year will see upgrades to the electrical service and wiring within the fire hall and property. The following three years will see the replacement of the building’s exterior finish, driveway and roof.
“The Otter Point Fire Hall is a solid building that has reached its mid-life. While many other jurisdictions are faced with replacing their hall, we believe that with ongoing upgrades to meet our needs the building will last through many more years of service,” said Kenny Jones, commission chair. “While residents will see an increase in their property taxes to support our fire department, the increase is substantially less than a new building.”
The Commission, together with Capital Regional District’s (CRD) Manager of the Electoral Area Fire and Emergency Programs, reviewed the Commission’s capital planning process and set up the long-term Capital Budget and Expenditure Plan 2014 – 2044. As a result the capital plan now requires a significant increase in contributions to cover previously unaccounted assets such as building, driveways and other equipment that were not part of the renewal plans to date.
The total increase for 2016 is $93,520. Almost 80% ($73,500) of this is an increase to the Building Reserve Fund ($50,000) and the Equipment Reserve Fund ($23,500.)
In addition, the Staff Training and Development budget increases $5,000. The provincial Office of the Fire Commissioner brought in new mandatory training requirements for all fire departments in the province. These requirements have raised the bar considerably in order to further protect firefighter lives. In order to meet these new requirements, a significant increase in training activity and course attendance is required for all firefighters.
Equipment Costs and Regulations
The majority of firefighting equipment comes from the United States. A large portion of this equipment has an expiry date, and under WorkSafeBC regulations the equipment has to be replaced. The vehicles also have expiry dates, and in order to maintain our insurance rating with Fire Underwriters the vehicles must also be replaced on a fixed schedule. With the changes in the Canadian dollar, the costs have increased significantly.[sam id=”15″ codes=”true”]Remedial Building Work Needed
A current assessment of the building’s condition indicates the electrical, exterior finish and roof need to be replaced within the next three or four years.
The fire hall protects all of our vehicles and equipment; roughly valued at $1.7 million.
The building provides our base of operations and a training facility for the volunteers. Liability has grown within our society and training standards have also been rising as mandated by provincial legislation.
In order to maximize the life of our current building and avoid a multi-million dollar new building, we need to take remedial steps now and over the next few years to upgrade these items. Estimated cost of a new hall in 2014 dollars is $2.9 million.
Comparison of Otter Point with other CRD fire departments
Of the eight CRD fire departments, Otter Point has the second lowest cost per $1,000 assessment and the third lowest average cost per household, slightly higher than South Galiano and Port Renfrew. With these capital increases Otter Point will still have one of the lowest average cost per household as shown below, information courtesy of CRD.
Location / Cost per 1,000 / Average cost, assessed value per household
- South Galiano / $0.69 / $259.67
- Otter Point* / $0.89 / $323.73
- Port Renfrew / $0.95 / $197.48
- Pender Island / $0.95 / $331.05
- Willis Pt / $0.95 / $511.51
- Shirley / $0.99 / $415.34
- East Sooke / $1.12 / $536.17
- North Galiano / $1.30 / $523.89
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