PINANTAN — The next move on establishing fire protection in Pinantan Lake is up to the residents of the community, says an official with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.
The issue arose in the wake of a fire during the Easter weekend that destroyed the Pinantan General Store. Fire-protection service has been an issue in the community for years.
Ron Storie, manager of community services for the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, told The Armchair News on Tuesday there are several options Pinantan could follow. Each has different cost and liability issues.
The community could choose a strictly volunteer department with no funding or training, a grant-in-aid option in which ongoing funding would be drawn via a bylaw for capital and operational costs, a volunteer model that’s closer to a municipal fire department, or a full-on municipal-style operation.
In the past, residents have resisted options that increase taxes, although a full study of costs hasn’t been done. Property is available for a fire hall, but there’s disagreement over how expensive a hall is needed — guestimates range from $30,000 to $200,000, depending on whether it’s a storage shed or a traditional fire hall.
One of the reasons for the different opinions on cost has to do with building code stipulations for fire departments, Storie said. A fire hall as to be “code plus.”
“I think this is where our interpretation differs.”
Plans have been adapted from a fire hall at the Coldwater Indian Band but residents haven’t chosen to pay the costs of building it.
“If they don’t want it we can’t force a horse to drink water.”
Storie said the TNRD has suggested modular construction so that the costs could be spread out over several years. He said whichever way the residents of Pinantan choose, there are many details to be worked out around liability insurance, taxation and arrangements for 911 service.
Fire departments around the regional district vary in their structure, he said. Ultimately, the initiative must come from the community. “You can only do so much,” he said. “It’s got to come from the community.”
One of the biggest issues is, “Do you have the tax base?” A service area must be established that supports the costs of fire protection, which would reduce house insurance premiums but each homeowner must make a decision.
Pinantan has a truck donated by the McLure Fire Department, and a society was formed a few months ago for a fire department so the decision that remains is one of cost and structure.