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UPDATE: Regional district seeking fire dispatch deal with Central Kootenay

Deal would see Prince George dispatchers handle calls for 20 additional fire departments
Prince George Fire Hall
Fire dispatchers based in the new Prince George fire hall could be handling calls for 20 additional fire departments in the Regional District of Central Kootenay next year.

When residents of the Regional District of Central Kootenay call their local fire department next year, they may end up speaking to a dispatcher in Prince George.

On Thursday the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George board of directors voted to enter negotiations with the Regional District of Central Kootenay to provide fire dispatch services for all 24 fire departments in the Central Kootenay.

"I want to commend emergency services for this contract," director Danielle Alan said. "It is a testament to the quality and value for service we're providing."

Any contract negotiated would see the Regional District of Central Kootenay cover the costs of providing the service. Currently the Regional District of Central Kootenay contracts most of its fire dispatch services from the City of Kelowna.

The Fraser-Fort George 911 service, based in the new fire hall on Massey Drive, already provides dispatch services for 80 fire departments, including four in the Central Kootenay. The dispatch centre also provides services to fire departments in the Cariboo, Kitmat-Stikine and Bulkley-Nechako regional districts.

Once a final contract has been negotiated, it will be brought back to the board for approval later this year. If a deal between the regional districts is approved, on Jan. 1, 2023, the local dispatchers would take on dispatch services for an additional 20 fire departments.

In 2019, the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George received public assent to borrow $3 million for a technology upgrade for its dispatch service, as part of the move to the new firehall.

“In January 2019 the Board approved the Infrastructure Upgrade Implementation (IUI) Strategy, which identified opportunities for improvement to the fire dispatch service that increase operational resiliency and business continuity while positioning the dispatch service for additional growth,” regional district general manager of community services Michael Higgins wrote in his report to the board. “The IUI Strategy provided for the development of the new FOCC operations site located at the new Prince George Fire Rescue Hall 1 and new purpose-built alternate site at the Regional District Public Safety Operations Buildings in Prince George.”