On Aug. 21, council finally gave its support, in principle, to the fundraising efforts of the Lake Cowichan Fire Department for the eventual purchase of a 12 foot Zodiac rescue boat and equipment.
At this meeting, council was able to air any final questions it had about this initiative and the water rescue training that fire fighters have been participating in over the last couple of months.
At previous meetings, council had expressed concerns over whether or not it should be the fire department’s responsibility to respond to water rescue calls, liabilities to the town for these calls, the possible need for the organizing of a local search and rescue organization, and any ongoing related costs associated with training or boat maintenance once purchased.
“Our concern was, one, when we were doing the budget, we had said we didn’t budget for a boat — we had said no — and we had a concern because there would be ongoing costs that went with it, and those questions were answered at the meeting we had, that we wouldn’t be buying the boat for them, and the training is something that is required anyway. They are still going to be answering calls to the river anyway, and training is required,” said Mayor Ross Forrest.
Fire Chief Doug Knott responded to concerns about why the boat is necessary, saying that it would be used for several reasons.
“A boat is a safer way to operate [in river rescue situations] . . . we’ve certainly used one over the years many times, borrowing and using our own stuff and we should be practicing what we preach. Some of the stuff we’ve borrowed was not the best of stuff. And if you go to the WorkSafe regulation, anytime we go within 15 feet of water we’re supposed to have some type of training and protection.”
With the blessing of council, the fire department has started it’s fundraising campaign, and Knott says they need the support of the community. He estimates that it will take two or three years to raise the funds needed.
Donation jars have been placed at locations around Lake Cowichan, and the department expects to work in conjunction with the local RCMP for future fundraising events.
The next event Knott has in mind is a possible bike rally for kids in Oct., and a possible rally at the fire hall.
Watch the Gazette for updates.