For more than 35 years the Okanagan Landing Volunteer Fire Department has been serving the community as an independent unit, but as of today, the once-autonomous station will
fall under the command of the main Vernon detachment.
The move has been mired in controversy since it was first announced more than a year ago and a petition was even delivered to City Hall demanding the status quo, but city council decided not to renew the OKLVFD contract that was put in place when the Landing amalgamated with the city 20 years ago.
Some opposing the move decried the loss of the Landing fire hall, but Vernon fire Chief Keith Green said the hall will still be manned by volunteers and will still operate as it has for decades.
Of the 26 Landing volunteers, half have decided to stay on.
"The station is not closing. It was always volunteer and it remains volunteer," said Green, adding the move unites the Landing hall with the city under a single command structure and will eliminate the duplicity of two fire chiefs and two organizational units.
Green said the infrastructure is already in place through the main hall and the move will benefit area residents.
"There is now going to be 60 firefighters trained out of that station," said Green. "It's a win-win for Vernon. We have a lot to offer and a lot of training to do together."
Green said the unified training will also provide a more cohesive unit.
"I have played on a lot of hockey teams and what not, and the ones that trained together the most were always the better team," he said.
But Green understands the concerns of
some Landing residents and the volunteer
"They did things a certain way and change is hard. We understand that and we support their decision not to join our team," said Green.
OKLVFD chief Dan Fuhr did not return messages left by The Daily Courier.