Regional fire service for area?

Grand Forks and Area D are looking to put their fire department resources together. Lynne Burch, the city’s chief administration officer, says that the rural fire department has asked for council’s support on looking into a regional fire service. Council decided to let the regional district explore what the options for the service would be.

Fire Chief Blair Macgregor stands in front of one of the Grand Forks' fire engines. The rural Area D fire department

Grand Forks and Area D are looking to put their fire department resources together. Lynne Burch, the city’s chief administration officer, says that the rural fire department has asked for council’s support on looking into a regional fire service. Council decided to let the regional district explore what the options for the service would be.

“They’ll undertake some sort of feasibility study to explore what it would look like,” Burch says.

Burch says the concept is interesting, because there are currently two taxing authorities, the city and the rural fire protection district, which provides fire protection for Area D.

She says it’s the city under contract that actually provides the service.

“We get together and put our money together under the terms of the contract but we have one fire service,” she says.

“So it’s not a city service in Area D, but it’s not a regional service.”

What the rural fire district is proposing is having one big service under the regional district of Area D.

The difference would be the funding agency being put together.

The Grand Forks Fire Department already runs the rural district, says Fire Chief Blair Macgregor, so that wouldn’t change.

“We run the fire service as one unit, but the equipment and the buildings are paid for by separate tax payers, at different rates,” Macgregor says.

He says that together, the city and rural will have to soon replace some of their trucks and that would be made much simpler by having the two services combined.

“If it’s all one unit it would make life easier,” he says. “It’s strictly, at this point, looking at a system to see if it would make sense.”

Area D Director Irene Perepolkin says that if the regional district did take it over, the rural fire departments would remain as they are.

The change would be in administration mostly.

“But it would be run out of one instead of having each individual one run itself,” Perepolkin says.

“It’ll be a combination of city and rural.”

She says the fire departments could benefit from the combining of equipment of each of the individual departments.

There are rural fire departments located at the base of Spencer Hill, at Big White, at the Nursery and up the North Fork.

The rural fire department will be having their annual general meeting on April 19, where more information will likely be made available.