Corrigan asks Bond about lack of action on fire report recommendations

BURNABY – New Democrat public safety critic Kathy Corrigan has written to Justice Minister Shirley Bond asking why there has been seemingly no action taken on a 2009 report aimed at improving fire safety in British Columbia.

A report by the Fire Services Liaison Group, titled “Public Safety in British Columbia: Transforming the Fire/Rescue Service” contained six recommendations to fill gaps in services and make changes that would improve fire prevention and response in all regions of the province.

“The report also implies a sense of urgency, in identifying six recommendations described as ‘immediate priorities to be addressed by the provincial government,’” wrote Corrigan in her letter to Bond. “These include broadening the role of the Office of the Fire Commissioner, to provide oversight of all aspects of fire/rescue services to British Columbians; standardizing competencies and training and improving the fire investigation and inspection system; and identifying and filling gaps in service coverage.”

Corrigan noted that two catastrophic fires at sawmills in Burns Lake and Prince George earlier this year should be catalysts for action, yet the Liberal government has been largely silent.

“The work recommended three years ago as an immediate priority for the provincial government, in identifying both responsibility and gaps in fire service, including inspections, are exactly the same issues identified and questions being asked with regard to the mill fires,” wrote Corrigan.

“This comprehensive report could significantly enhance fire protection services in British Columbia. I’m hopeful that you will be able to provide assurances that its findings and recommendations are being taken seriously by your government.”