The Courtenay Fire Department currently serves the Merville district

Merville one step closer to improved fire protection

The Merville area has passed another hurdle on the road to having its own fire protection service.

The Comox Valley Regional District’s electoral areas services committee has reviewed and approved a service establishment bylaw.

This bylaw resulted from a conversion of the Merville Fire Protection District to a regional district service on June 15, via a provincial government Order in Council.

Residents shouldn’t start counting their fire insurance savings just yet, though, as a lot of work still remains to be done.

Research began a year ago into fire services for the large rural area between Courtenay and Campbell River.

Fred Banham and Associates and Dave Mitchell and Associates were hired to review fire service requirements and governance models.

The Fire Underwriters Survey position is that a single family residence should be no more than eight kilometres by road network from a fire hall in order to be considered as protected.

The FUS estimates a community that has fully protected status can see their insurance rates go down by 60 per cent.

The consultants found that both the Courtenay and Oyster River fire departments were more than eight kilometres from the Merville fire protection area.

The consultants recommended that a new satellite fire hall be built in a location to provide eight kilometre protection in both directions.

The new hall could be established as a new department, or be made an auxiliary fire hall to be operated by Oyster River Fire Rescue or Courtenay Fire Department.

The search is on now for a suitable property, and work continues on what the maximum tax rate will be.

Electoral Area C director Edwin Grieve said fire insurance rates could see “huge savings” if an accredited water shuttle service is also established.

“I just would like to strike while the fire’s hot … or the embers are burning,” he said.

Courtenay Fire Dept. continues to provide services to the Merville area under contract with the regional district.