Crews from more distant Victoria rather than Saanich will respond to future tower crane rescues in Sidney.
Council voted 6-1 Monday, with Coun. Scott Garnett opposed to contract the City to Victoria for tower crane rescue services. The municipality’s current arrangement with Saanich (which also includes four other communities) for this service expires on April 30.
The vote came after council had received a report prepared by Sidney Volunteer Fire Chief Brett Mikkelsen, which read that Victoria offers Sidney the best value when considering cost and response capacity. Mikkelsen also addressed council Monday.
Coun. Scott Garnett acknowledged that an agreement with Victoria would cost the municipality less money, but expressed concern about response time. “I’m concerned about the extra time, just because I know minutes matter. I just can’t put the financial aspects ahead of the time aspect. It really is a stumbling block for me.”
Specifically, he pointed to a passage in the report dealing with response time. “Response times vary on a myriad of factors, but a response from Victoria may take an additional five t0 10 minutes versus Saanich,” it reads.
“Even it’s one minute, here you say, five to 10 minutes, that could be difference between somebody dying or a building being done,” said Garnett.
According to the report, Saanich’s proposed agreement includes a personnel charge for each firefighter and officer at double time on top of fees for each attending rescue vehicle. Victoria would only levy the personnel charge if the duration of the rescue event warranted a ‘call back’ to cover the crews out of area. Victoria’s proposal also does not include fees for responding apparatus.
The report also highlights another difference.
A rough estimate pegs the cost of a rescue at $3,000 with complexity and duration of the rescue determining costs.
The report describes crane rescues as low probability events that occur on occasion in the Capital Regional District.
“Staff will investigate the possibility of passing on this cost to benefiting developers through a revision to the relevant bylaw(s),” it reads.
This said, every municipality must make arrangements for such rescues, which “may be seen as an expected service covered by building permit.”
The agreement with Victoria would run for five years. View Royal, Colwood and Esquimalt are also leaving the arrangement with Saanich. Oak Bay has been the other historic member.
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