The Field fire department in 2019. The department has had a rough year and a half, experiencing difficulty finding a place to train new members and practice their firefighting skills. (File photo)

The Field fire department in 2019. The department has had a rough year and a half, experiencing difficulty finding a place to train new members and practice their firefighting skills. (File photo)

Field Fire Rescue steps back from road rescue calls

The rescue had an interim contract in place for six months of road rescue, which expired Oct 1

As of Oct. 1, Field Fire Rescue informed Parks Canada they would no longer be providing road rescue service along the Trans-Canada Highway through Yoho National Park.

The department will now only be attending to structural fire calls.

Normally, the volunteer fire department would cover road rescue along the approximately 50 kilometre stretch of highway that runs through the national park.

But according to Patrick Cais, the acting fire chief of the Field fire department, it’s become a matter of comfort for the volunteer firefighters, who have been struggling to find a place to train their road rescue skills.

“We lost our training facility at the Boulder Compound, so we’ve not been able to practice auto extraction and road rescue for our senior members, or train our new members,” said Cais.

“That’s why as a department we are not comfortable responding on the highway.”

The department was under an interim agreement with Parks Canada.

According to Alex Kolesch of Parks Canada, the Field Fire Rescue had the vehicles they used for practice temporarily removed from the compound, but has since had one vehicle returned so that the department may continue to practice and undertake that service.

“We are very much committed to making sure there is emergency service response in Parks Canada,” said Kolesch.

“We’ll continue to work with our neighbours on a long-term solution and sustainable solutions, as Field is a small community that draws a lot of volunteers from a small population.”

Kolesch says there’s an agreement that in the interim, B.C. ambulance and STARS air ambulance will collaborate with Parks Canada staff to respond to emergencies when required.

He also says Golden Fire Rescue will respond as necessary, although Golden Mayor Ron Oszust disputes that.

“It’s Parks Canada’s responsibility to provide fire and road rescue just like it’s our responsibility for our area,” said Oszust.

“It’s not a part of our responsibility or mandate. I hope they negotiate and have conversations with Field Fire Rescue to continue providing those services.”

Oszust says once the town gets a formal request from Parks Canada to provide service to the area, it can be brought before council, but that proposal is yet to be received. The earliest that would happen now is Oct. 20.

In the meantime, Cais says Field continues to talk with Parks Canada and negotiate an extension to their current interim contract, which expires at the end of October.

He says when negotiating, the fire department will be open to the possibility of restoring road rescue service, depending on the comfort levels of his volunteers.

He hopes to find a permanent fire chief, a role that has been vacant since June 2019, a hiring that would help the department organize itself and rebound from a tough year.

“It’s really important for us just to have a strong fire department that can respond and be able to offer this service,” said Cais, echoing Kolesch’s statements on commitment to safety.

“It would help take a load off of our volunteers who have given so many hours to the department.”

While the Field fire department and Parks Canada are separate entities, the two work together to provide coverage and sustainable solutions to road rescue service.

There has also been an ongoing audit of the Field fire department, with Cais saying they’ve been reviewing and discussing with Kolesch to find a long-term solution, although that process is still ongoing.

trans-canada highway

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
81 new cases of COVID-19 detected in Interior Health Friday

One additional staff member at Kelowna long-term care home tests positive, no new deaths

Jake Jeannotte, age six, holds a Whisky Jack – another name for Gray Jay, Canada Jay or Camp Robber – a common bird that can be seen on the bird count. 
Bird count back for 31st year

There are some slight modifications to the bird count to accomodate for COVID-19

One death and 82 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

1,981 total cases, 609 are active and those individuals are on isolation

Paramedic Jason Manuel, dressed in PPE, inspects an ambulance at Station 341 on Nov. 30. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Second wave, twice the anxiety; Okanagan paramedics reflect on pandemic from the front line

‘I don’t know who that (next) person is going to be, I don’t want it to be me or my family’: Paramedic

Dr. Albert de Villiers, Chief Medical Health Officer for the Interior Health Authority. (Contributed)
‘People need to start listening’: IH top doc combats COVID-19 misconceptions

Dr. Albert de Villiers says light at the end of the tunnel will grow in step with people’s adherence to PHO guidance

A snow moon rises over Mt. Cheam in Chilliwack on Feb. 8, 2020. Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 is Mountain Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Dec. 6 to 12

Mountain Day, Dewey Decimal System Day and Lard Day are all coming up this week

Chinook salmon spawning in the Fraser River near Tete Jeune Cache. ((Shane Kalyn photo, property of the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance)
North-Okanagan Shuswap MP petitions government to reform salmon management

Mel Arnold tables petition to allow more angler access to non-threatened Fraser River chinook salmon

Shuswap Cider Company has applied for a licence that would accommodate a cider manufacturing facility, a tasting room and patio/lounge area at Westgate Market in Salmon Arm. (File photo)
Cider manufacturing facilty, tasting room and patio proposed for Salmon Arm

Council asked to raise a virtual glass to a licence for a cidery and amenities in Westgate Mall

It was an opening day filled with blue skies, sun and COVID-19 protocols at Vernon’s SilverStar Mountain Resort Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Passholders enjoy sunny opening day at Silver Star Mountain

Resort staff say parking reservations, COVID-19 protocols went smoothly Friday, Dec. 4

Summerland’s cenotaph was originally installed in front of the high school. The old school was located close to the corner of Rosedale Avenue and Jubilee Road. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Cenotaph and parks in Summerland honour fallen soldiers

Community memorials pay tribute to those who were killed in military service

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Montreal Alouettes’ Michael Sam is set to make his pro football debut as he warms up before the first half of a CFL game against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. Sam became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. He signed with the Montreal Alouettes after being released by St. Louis, but abruptly left after playing one game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Study finds Canada a ‘laggard’ on homophobia in sports

Among females, 44 per cent of Canadians who’ve come out to teammates reported being victimized

Most Read