Emergency response services provided by the Bear Lake Volunteer Fire Department (BLVFD) will be suspended as of December 1, 2023. This means that the department will not be responding to any fire, rescue or medical emergency incidents. The suspension of emergency response services is a result of the fire department not having sufficiently trained firefighters available to respond to emergency events. Without sufficiently trained firefighters the Bear Lake Volunteer Fire Department is not in compliance with provincial structural firefighter training standards, WorkSafe BC and Occupational Health and Safety requirements.
This decision has not been made lightly. First responder safety, and making sure every volunteer firefighter goes home safely to their families, is the Regional District’s first priority. The suspension of emergency response services will remain in place until the Bear Lake Volunteer Fire Department can meet the training and supervisory skill requirements of the provincial structural firefighting standards, as well as meeting WorkSafe BC and Occupational Health and Safety requirements.
The Regional District will assist the Bear Lake Volunteer Fire Department in continuing to provide training to its current few members, this training will remain in place uninterrupted. The hope is that more Bear Lake community members will volunteer with the fire department and join the training sessions, with the goal of working towards achieving compliance with the training requirements and eventually reinstating the ability to respond to emergency events in Bear Lake. Bear Lake residents should contact their insurance companies to provide this change in fire protection services status.
BC Ambulance, RCMP and BC Wildfire Service will continue to respond to emergency events as they do today, this change in status to the BLVFD does not affect the response of these organizations. Residents should still call 9-1-1 for BC Ambulance, RCMP and BC Wildfire services as normal.
Volunteer firefighters are required to complete basic standardized training and attend 60 hours of training per year. Fire department practices occur once a week for a couple of hours, with some specialized training on weekends for those that are interested. Those interested in learning more about joining the Bear Lake Volunteer Fire Department should contact the Regional District at 250-960-4400.