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Apex Mountain Resort achieves fire insurance grading

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Apex Mountain achieves fire insurance grading
Apex Mountain achieves fire insurance grading – Jan 9, 2023

Apex Volunteer Fire Rescue (AVFR) has achieved a fire insurance grading, meaning more protection and possibly lower insurance rates for the rural community.

A Dwelling Protection Grade 3A has been achieved for Personal Lines insurance and a Public Fire Protection Classification 7 for Commercial Lines.

“Achieving a fire insurance grading of ‘protected’ is a significant milestone that recognizes the hard work of our dedicated volunteers and supportive community members to provide 24/7 fire protection services,” said Apex Volunteer Fire Rescue chief Kelly Johnston in the press release.

“This not only increases the public safety of the Apex community but ensures peace of mind and economic viability for residents, businesses, and property owners through increased insurance affordability.”

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Apex Mountain Resort’s general manager, James Shalman, added that for many residents and businesses, it has been hard to secure insurance, as the community is approximately 10 kilometres away from the Penticton Fire Department.

“Actually getting this additional rating means that a lot of houses, condos, townhouses, chalets that had a hard time either getting insurance, didn’t have insurance, or had to pay very high premiums … (will now be) enabled to have lower premiums or even get insurance at all. So, it’s great news for the community,” said Shalman.

According to Fire Underwriters Survey, a service for insurers and municipalities, in past reviews, staffing levels prevented the AVFR from achieving fire insurance grading.

However, there are now 16 trained fire members, including the fire chief, living and working in the community.

“The community support for the volunteer fire brigade was quite high, but now that it’s achieved the next status level, then that involvement has actually gone up even higher because people are even more willing to get involved,” said Shalman.

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“They saw what happened in the summer, they liked what happened and they want to show their support. An effort towards mitigating any fires that might happen in the future.”

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This achievement comes nearly a year after the fire brigade transitioned into a Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) fire service.

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“Before, it was completely volunteer-based and all of the money that was raised was through fundraising,” said Apex Volunteer Fire Rescue prevention officer Molly Raine.

“Now that we are switched over to the [Regional District], Apex Volunteer Fire Rescue has a dedicated crew that responds 24/7 to help the Apex Resort community.”

According to RDOS, volunteers have spent the past year training to become proficient in exterior and interior attack structural firefighting, vehicle extrication, medical first responder, rope rescue, wildland fire suppression, wildfire structure protection, and fire prevention.

The AVFR team have also spent time improving fire apparatus and equipment operational readiness to industry standards in preparation for frontline response during emergencies.

“Now that we’re a tax-funded fire department, there are certain training requirements that each firefighter needs to meet,” said Raine.

“We meet on the first and third Tuesday of every month to complete the training to ensure that we have a well-rounded group.”

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Those skills were put to the test over the summer when the Keremeos Creek wildfire quickly developed near the mountain.

“We learned a lot, we were actually surprisingly prepared,” said Shalman.

“It was interesting — in some of the debriefs with some of the fire departments and chiefs, they said that the Apex Mountain Resort community was the most well-protected community that they’ve ever seen.”

Moving forward, work is underway to improve the fire rescue base.

“Right now, our deputy chief is working really hard towards the completion of our new fire hall,” said Raine.

“We will also have a new fire engine coming our way to replace our fire engine, Timber, before 2025.”

Apex Mountain Resort says that although fire may not be top of mind during the winter, it is still important to be fire ready.

“It’s pretty hard to think of fires right now when we have such beautiful snow conditions out here and the snow is fantastic up here, but it’s always in the back of your mind because people do have a lot of fires to stay warm in their residence,” said Shalman.

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“Always just making sure that you have your chimney swept, that you have everything kind of prepared early season so that when we get into winter conditions, everything stays safe all winter long.”

Click to play video: 'Apex Mountain Village residents get green light to return home'
Apex Mountain Village residents get green light to return home

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