Small fire departments throughout British Columbia got a financial boost on Friday with the province announcing $5 million in extra funding for equipment and training.
According to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, the money comes from the province’s Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF) and will be distributed through the Union of B.C. Municipalities.
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The ministry says the $5 million is “part of a newly established funding stream” to help eligible fire departments — which include local governments, First Nations communities and society-run departments — with equipment and training.
“What we really want to do is to level the playing field for smaller volunteer and composite fire departments in B.C.’s local and First Nations communities,” said Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general.
“The smaller a department’s budget, the higher the priority in the allocation of these funds so we can make sure these funds get to the communities that need them most.”
The funding is part of an additional $36 million investment in the CEPF as well as part of an initiative by Emergency Management B.C. to help improve the province’s overall emergency management system, according to the ministry.
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Phil Lemire, president of the Fire Chiefs Association of B.C., welcomed the funding news.
“The Fire Chiefs Association of British Columbia applauds the announcement of funding being made available to volunteer and composite fire departments through the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund,” Lemire said.
“We are encouraged by this provincial initiative that will assist departments to better protect their communities.”