Highlands Fire Department and paramedics rescued an injured hiker at Lone Tree Hill in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)

Highlands Fire Department and paramedics rescued an injured hiker at Lone Tree Hill in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich, Central Saanich and Highlands fire departments implement updated mutual aid partnerships

New agreements ensure cross-border cooperation, efficient response in high-risk incidents

Residents in Saanich, Central Saanich and Highlands can expect to see firefighters from other jurisdictions lending a hand in their municipality as newly updated partnerships ensure automatic aid and a response from the nearest fire station have been implemented.

This month, the districts’ fire departments finalized the implementation of updated mutual aid agreements – tools that enable departments to assist one another, share resources and provide support in major incidents across jurisdictional boundaries – and new automatic aid protocols that allow resources from the station closest to an incident to be dispatched.

READ ALSO: Saanich firefighters not prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine despite working on frontlines

The agreements, signed earlier this year, help each department provide faster, better and more cost-effective service through streamlined collaboration. To reimburse departments for their cross-boundary service, a cost recovery process was also put in place. In order to give each department time to implement the required computer-aided dispatch and communications protocols, the Automatic Aid Protocol Agreements weren’t implemented until April.

“Through collaboration, joint training and aligned procedures, these agreements ensure that our approach is modern and provides citizens with the best service possible,” Saanich Fire Chief Michael Burgess said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay fire reach ‘modern’ service agreement

Highlands Fire Chief Dean Ford added that safety is the top priority for every department and by working together to establish agreements, the departments can rely on one another for assistance “when responding to high-risk incidents, such as wildfire,” and trust that additional resources will be available immediately.

Central Saanich Fire Chief Chris Vrabel noted that the agreements will increase operational efficiency and allow each department to be more effective – “resulting in a higher level of fire and life safety for our citizens and firefighters.”

After a long negotiation process, the Saanich Fire Department also updated it’s mutual aid agreement with the Victoria and Oak Bay fire departments in January.


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