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Building code change could be expensive for municipalities

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An "unrealistic" demand that fire department response times be lowered to 10 minutes would cost Lake Country taxpayers a lot of money, Mayor James Baker says.
Town council is against proposed changes to the B.C. Building Code that could require municipalities such as Lake Country to significantly increase funding for the fire departments.
"It would be extremely onerous for us to comply with this proposed new unrealistic response time," Baker said Sunday. "Certainly, it would cost beyond what our current budget could handle."
At Tuesday's regular meeting, council is expected to endorse a resolution opposing the possible modification to the building code.
The resolution would then be forwarded to a meeting this spring of the Southern Interior Local Government Association, with Lake Country's representatives trying to get support for their cause from other municipal councils.
Like most smaller communities, Lake Country relies on a mix of paid staff and volunteers for its fire protection.
The municipality has four full-time members in its fire department, who are backed by dozens of paid on-call volunteers.
The department has three halls throughout the community of 12,000 people, and it currently operates on a 15-minute average response time.
"But in fact, the response time is often less than that," Baker said. "It's usually only more than 15 minutes when the fire is reported from one of more remote
areas."
Nevertheless, formally achieving a 10-minute response time for all areas of the municipality would require the town to add more full-time staff and buy new equipment, Baker says.
Of the 819 calls handled by the Lake Country fire department last year, 509 were medical in nature. There were only 18 structure fires, in which varying degrees of damage occurred, and no one was injured.
"The reality is people are not in peril because of the way the fire department operates now," Baker said. "These new regulations would just add a lot of extra cost."

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