Alicia BridgesThe Interior News, Smithers
Rural residents in the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) are being urged to check if their property is in a fire protection zone.
Local fire departments are not funded to service properties located outside the Regional District’s fire protection zones, so property fires in those areas can go untended.
Residents can apply to the Regional District as individuals or groups to have their properties included in the protection zone, but the decision lies in the hands of the nearest fire department.
If that fire department concludes it cannot logistically provide the service because the distance is too far, it can refuse the application.
RDBN Area A director Mark Fisher, who represents the rural area around Smithers and Telkwa, said it was important RDBN residents knew if they were covered.
“Like a lot of services in the Regional District, not everyone is covered for everything, and not everyone pays for everything, so basically people need to know if they are paying for fire protection or not,” said Fisher.
“If they are no problem, if they’re not — a lot of people actually don’t want it, so that’s fine — then they have to make a personal choice if they want to pursue that.”
Groups of residents can also apply for other localized services, such as weed harvesting or the installation of a street light.
Fisher said their taxes were then adjusted to pay for the service, if it was approved.
Round Lake residents last year successfully petitioned to have a dry hydrant installed by the RDBN.
The new zone ends on Quick West Road, just down the road from the property where Katrina Hill’s house burned to the ground last November.
Hill said she knew her home was not covered by the fire when she bought the property, but she thought she could pay the fire department to fight the fire.
It was not until the day of the fire that she realized the fire department would not come, so she had to stand by and watch her home burn.
“The house was not really on fire much when the fire department was called and I think it would have taken them not very long to get out there and spray it down,” she said.
“And we could have had the majority of our stuff saved.”
Hill said she plans to contact her neighbours to petition for the fire protection zone to be extended to cover her home.
“I would definitely petition to get it brought out a little further and Mark [Fisher] had mentioned that I could go to the neighbours’ houses and petition to get it further because it doesn’t really make any sense why they would bring the [fire protection zone] all the way out there onto the road and not cover any houses,” she said.
Fisher said that section without homes on Quick West Road might have been included in the Round Lake fire protection zone because the owner of the adjacent property was one of the petitioners.