The SLRD’s Bylaw 480 (1992) establishes a fire protection area for the Seton community. The Seton Valley Volunteer Fire Department (SVVFD) has been operated by the Seton Valley Volunteer Firefighters Society (the Society) on behalf of the SLRD. In August, 2019, Bylaw 480 (1992) was amended to clarify the structure of the existing service delivery method.
The Society appoints the fire chief and owns all equipment and apparatus, while the fire hall is owned by the SLRD.
Regulations for volunteer fire departments in B.C. are the responsibility of the Province, through the Officer of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) and WorkSafeBC.
There are requirements under the OFC and WorkSafeBC that have significant impacts on the Seton Valley Volunteer Fire Department. Standards for training, occupational health and safety, equipment and deployment have become much more stringent over the years, which has made the operation of volunteer fire departments more difficult, demanding and expensive than in the past.
Fire Service Review
In 2013, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) undertook a review of the various fire services serving Britannia Beach, Garibaldi, Birken, Bralorne, Gun Lake and Seton Valley. The review included an analysis of the administrative and governance structures under which these services were provided, to ensure they complied with all the current legislation and regulations.
The review found that there were a number of required improvements and updates for all volunteer fire departments in the SLRD, including Seton. Following the review, and community consultation, an action plan was created for each volunteer fire department to address immediate priorities.
In 2016, the SLRD undertook public consultation on the future of the Seton Valley Volunteer Fire Department. Options for future fire service provision were developed and presented at a public meeting, followed by an online survey. Based on the consultation results, the Seton community, at that time, selected the status quo option: continuation of fire protection brigade services being delivered by a third-party organization and no increase to the tax requisition.
Despite the incredibly dedicated, energetic and creative volunteer service provided over decades, the SVVFD currently does not comply with the minimum standards required by the Office of the Fire Commissioner’s Structure Firefighters Training and Competency Playbook (known as the “Playbook”). In July 2019, the previous SVVFD fire chief, in consultation with the SLRD, temporarily closed the fire department until essential protective equipment and operating processes are brought up to a standard for safe fire response and in line with current WorkSafeBC standards.
The SLRD has recently entered into temporary service agreements with the Tsal’alh operated Seton Lake Volunteer Fire Department (SLVFD) for the SLVFD to respond if there is a call for service in the Seton community during the temporary closure.
Current options for fire service delivery in Seton were presented at a community meeting September 29, 2019.
These options, along with associated financial and operating implications, are outlined in the presentation shared at that meeting:
Seton residents were encouraged to complete a brief online survey, which outlined each option for fire service delivery in Seton, and asks respondents to rank those options from most to least preferred. The survey was open until 4 p.m. on October 21, 2019.
Please note survey responses are anonymous and the input gathered from the survey, along with the input from the community meeting, will be compiled and presented to the SLRD Board of Directors for further direction.
For more information, please contact:
SLRD Emergency Program Manager