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Fire-fighting costs could rise under new provincial regulation

Lake Country officials are alarmed that new provincial rules could drive up firefighting costs.

The revised B.C. Building Code calls for firefighters to respond to a blaze at newly created lots in 10 minutes instead of the standard 15 minutes.

“It’s a significant concern for communities that rely on volunteer departments,” said Coun. Lisa Cameron.

“This (15-minute response time) does not threaten anyone’s safety. There was less loss of structures and damage due to fire last year.”

A 10-minute response time could lead to communities, such as Lake Country, having to hire full-time firefighters.

“It comes at a significant cost every time you add bodies,” said Cameron.

“Our firefighters do an amazing job and this (new code) somehow suggests they’re not as good.”

In a letter to Energy Minister Bill Bennett, Mayor James Baker says the new code could also drive up housing costs because it calls for fire sprinklers.

“Most importantly, a new public safety risk could result if much larger water connections required for sprinklering fail,” said Baker.

“We are concerned about the very real landslide risks in our hillside community and other property damage when the required larger water connections inevitably fail over time.”

Sprinklers could also force the municipality to upgrade water infrastructure to address increased pressure.

To express its concern, Lake Country council is asking the Southern Interior Local Government Association to support a resolution that calls for municipalities with volunteer fire departments to maintain 15-minute response times.

“Recognizing that we are balancing several conflicting aspects of safety, we respectfully ask that you allow the District of Lake Country to continue with our current 15-minute fire department response time in order to meet the building code requirements,” said Baker in his letter to Bennett.

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