Another Castlegar councillor comments on fire department letter

Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff adds her thoughts on recent letter to the editor.

City of Castlegar councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff.

I would like to respond with regard to the hiring of a 2nd deputy fire chief and the Fire Chief as the airport manager.

It certainly has ignited a lot of dialogue in our community – which is great.

Almost a year ago council debated the merits of hiring a 2nd deputy fire chief during our budget meetings. There were two main reasons why we decided to add the position:

1) For succession planning which is vital to any community or in fact any business – we cannot afford for the knowledge and the ‘know-how’ to leave our community without some kind of mental download – and I don’t think we have any Star Trek types lingering around! When Fire Chief Rempel retires in a few years – over 30 years of knowledge will be gone – so we need that transfer of information to happen!

2) And, to alleviate the workload/commitment that our current Fire Chief and Deputy Fire Chief do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis – no one should be expected to be on call 24/7. I feel safe and secure knowing that these two individuals have gone above and beyond week after week and have been there for our community – saving property or saving lives. When we look around the region at other fire departments with numerous paid staff (some have 10)  – which costs those taxpayers millions in dollars – we should be thankful for what we have and how the department is run at a third of the costs of others.

And with regard to the comment about the Fire Chief being demoted when he took on the Airport Manager job – that is so far from the truth. When is it ever a demotion when someone takes on added ‘responsibility’ in lieu of already having a full-time job.

To me – it means council trusts Mr. Rempel to get the job done! Council will be starting the budget process very soon and I invite everyone to take part in the process – send us your ideas, thoughts, comments – come out to budget meetings, talk to us – send us email – we really want to hear from our community. As an elected official – I can honestly say I don’t have all the ideas or answers.

It really does take a community to ‘raise the community!’ and if we all work together we really can be the best community we can be – and to me that is something to be very thankful for.

Sue Heaton–Sherstobitoff

Councillor, City of Castlegar