Firefighters stick to boundaries

Home burned down between Lake Country and Vernon but was not in a fire protection district

Fire officials insist they must stay within their boundaries even when a house is burning down.

A home on Highway 97, south of Bailey Road, was gutted by flames Monday night, and despite calls to area fire departments, emergency assistance did not show up.

“It was clearly outside of our response area so we had no authority to respond,” said David Lind, Vernon’s interim fire chief.

Lind says it’s a difficult decision to make when a home is in jeopardy, but not all areas pay into fire coverage.

There is also a concern about fire department resources being outside of boundaries.

“We leave our community that we serve at risk,” said Lind.

Consistent policies exist in Coldstream.

“If you leave the fire protection area and something happens, there are liability issues,” said Dave Sturgeon, Coldstream fire chief.

“People should find out if they are in a fire protection district.”

The next closest fire department was Lake Country, but it is an entirely different regional district from the home.

“It’s not in our coverage area at all,” said Steve Windsor, Lake Country fire chief.

The provincial government will cover the costs of a response outside of boundaries if a life is at risk, and the Lake Country department has some latitude to leave boundaries if a fire could ultimately threaten that community.

While unable to go, Lind made the B.C. Forest Service aware of the fire Monday. However, the Forest Service is not responsible for structure fires in unincorporated areas and only prevents them from becoming wildfires.

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