FVRD fire dispatch services to move from Chilliwack to Vancouver

Six part-time jobs eliminated; employees told of the decision two weeks before Christmas

When local residents call for the Chilliwack Fire Department and talk to a fire dispatcher, that person is a member of the community, someone who lives and works in the area.

But not for long, as the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) is moving the fire dispatch department to E-Comm in Vancouver.

In a surprise move, four full-time employees and six part-time employees were told last week about the move to E-Comm on East Pender Street, which comes with a reduction in the six part-time jobs.

FVRD spokesperson Jennifer Kinneman confirmed the board’s decision, which won’t come into effect until fall 2018 at the soonest.

The FVRD’s fire dispatch services cover Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Harrison Hot Springs, Hope, the District of Kent and the eight electoral areas.

“This decision was not made lightly,” Kinneman said via email. “Dispatch services require a sustained investment in technology and infrastructure to ensure public safety. As the province moves toward Next Generation 911, these investments are going to significantly increase.”

E-Comm has 18 years of experience dispatching, and is leading emergency communications centre in North America.

• RELATED: One-in-five 911 calls are ‘non-emergencies’: E-Comm

“Its large workforce and operating model provide enhanced security, back up provisions, and economies of scale,” she said. “As difficult as this decision was, the FVRD knew that this transition was necessary and we will be working to support and assist those employees who will be affected.”

But CUPE president Bryan Bickley said he is yet to find out if the move to E-Comm will have an impact on emergency service dispatching here in Chilliwack.

“Moving to a more big-box model is concerning,” Bickley told The Progress on Friday. “But we haven’t been able to flesh that out yet.”

Bickley said the local dispatchers — who are a tight-knit group of people who live, work and play in the community — knew that next generation 911 was coming, but they thought the FVRD would keep it in house.

“I think the dispatchers were pretty blindsided by this,” he said. “They really had no idea.”

The four full-time employees will be offered the four jobs in Vancouver, and if any of them don’t take the jobs, they will be offered to the part-time employees being laid off.

And while the job loss could be 12 months off, being told your job is disappearing from the community two weeks before Christmas is hard.

“The timing is really unfortunate,” Bickley said, adding that the FVRD had concerns the information was going to be leaked out and didn’t want misinformation spread.

“They felt it was better to rip the Band-Aid and at least get accurate information out.”

Bickley said his members offer that personal touch being local to the community, and he wonders what a move to E-Comm will do in that regard.

“Is the service going to be affected because of the loss of that? It’s fairly early and we don’t have as much information as we’d like to have yet.”


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Housing to present to Hope council Monday night

Delegation to address about community concerns about supportive housing project proposal

DNA confirms SUV struck and killed Abbotsford cyclist in 2015, court hears

Kerry Froese operated company that owned vehicle that struck and killed Ronald James Scott in 2015

Hope at risk of flood damage without better protection

District moving ahead with application for flood mitigation study funds

Hope Curling Club set to welcome provincial championship in February

Field for mixed doubles B.C. tournament almost filled, two berths left to fill

Hope firefighters facing down 48 flights for lung health

Group of seven will take part in grueling Climb the Wall fundraiser

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sex assaults linked, RCMP ask women not to walk alone in Coquitlam park

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

Most Read