A fire hall in West Kelowna was quiet on Saturday — not because of overnight rain that soaked the Okanagan, quelling any chance of fires, but because of staffing issues.
Citing long hours and sickness, West Kelowna Fire said Station 32 in Lakeview Heights was to be closed between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The fire station may be closed again on Sunday for the same reasons.
However, despite the closure, West Kelowna’s fire chief said the city is still well protected.
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“I hope it’s a one-time thing,” West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund said of the Station 32 closure. “In saying that, it will be the same situation tomorrow. But beyond that, we don’t see it to be an ongoing issue.”
Brolund said because of sickness and long work hours, a number of staff are currently off work.
“Unfortunately, we just don’t have the staff to safely that station,” he said.
The fire chief noted, though, that mayor and council have approved funding for 10 additional firefighters, starting in September.
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Those 10, said Brolund, “will go a long ways to making sure isn’t a regular thing.”
Brolund stated he “wouldn’t take this measure if there was an alternative,” adding his firefighters have already “been working a number of extended tours of duty, which mean 38 hours straight.”
He added “I do want the community to know that we’ve got contingency plans in place and that they remain well protected.”