Fire departments throughout the Cowichan Valley have signed an agreement that ensures all of the region’s communities have backup emergency response assistance.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District said in a press release that all 17 fire departments in the regional district have signed a mutual aid agreement enabling them to provide assistance to each other without fees.
The agreement is between six fire departments within the CVRD, four fire departments within the Municipality of North Cowichan and departments in the City of Duncan, Town of Ladysmith, Town of Lake Cowichan, Mill Bay Improvement District, Cowichan Bay Improvement District, Shawnigan Improvement District, and the Thetis Island Improvement District.
It is the first time a “single” regional agreement has been established in the Cowichan Valley, according to the CVRD.
“This is an important agreement for residents of the CVRD, who can rest assured that emergency response resources are not limited to those in their own backyard,” said Aaron Stone, chair of the Cowichan Valley Regional District. “Thanks to everyone from the many local governments and improvement districts in the region who worked together on this agreement, and all the volunteer firefighters whose continued service makes it possible.”
Mutual aid essentially means that when one fire department is responding to an emergency, another department can respond to other fires or emergencies in the area, should it be needed. It also allows fire departments to request assistance or resources from another fire department, should they need help in battling a fire or handling an emergency.
If for some reason, a fire department is unavailable to provide assistance to another department, then mutual aid will come from the next closest neighbouring fire department, according to the CVRD.
“Implementing a single, regional mutual aid agreement provides the ability of fire departments to legally and promptly access resources should they be needed and available,” Jason deJong, Fire Rescue Services Coordinator for the Cowichan Valley Regional District, said in a press release, adding. “In a region that continues to experience prolonged summer droughts and associated increases to wildfire risk, it’s important that we have a coordinated network of first responders to ensure the safety of all residents.”