Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay Fire Departments Update Agreement

February 3, 2021

VICTORIA – The Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay fire departments have updated their mutual and automatic aid firefighting agreement, ensuring continued cooperation and alignment of fire services across the three core municipalities. The new agreement increases resource capacity, inter-municipal firefighter training opportunities and professional cooperation through operational response planning and coordinated responses to high-risk events.

“The top priority of every fire department is public and firefighter safety. These new agreements assist to identify an important tool for our departments to call upon in situations where additional resources are required immediately, to address and ensure the safety of firefighters and the citizens of our municipalities in responding to high risk and, increasingly, high rise or multi-occupancy environments. Staffing is the most valued resource in response to any emergency. This tool is one that collectively assists us all in addressing this reality,” said Paul Bruce, Victoria Fire Chief.

In addition to the long-standing mutual aid process – which allows departments to assist each other if one department’s capacity is temporarily overwhelmed – a new automatic aid model has also been added. Automatic aid means that a pre-determined response will occur for specific areas or hazards, eliminating the need for departments to make a formal request. The end result is faster and better service.

“The Saanich Fire Department looks forward to working with our partners under this new agreement as we continue to provide a high level of service to residents of Saanich and the region. Through collaboration, joint training and aligned procedures, this agreement ensures that our approach to fire services delivery in the region is modern and provides citizens with the best service possible. We are thrilled to be taking yet another step forward to ensuring our service is tailored to the needs of the community,” said Saanich Fire Chief Mike Burgess.

This more modern, all-encompassing agreement aligns with expectations of collaboration, streamlined services, and leveraging economies of scale, resulting in cost effective service delivery and best use of tax dollars. A cost recovery process is also in place to ensure that municipalities are reimbursed for the service they provide beyond their borders.

The original agreement between the three municipalities was implemented in 1980, at a time when emergency service requests were significantly lower. Calls for service are now upwards of 7,000 calls a year for Victoria; 6500 for Saanich; and 1300 for Oak Bay.

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