Looking ahead to 2021
It is impossible to talk about the future without first acknowledging the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The District of North Vancouver was one of the first communities in Canada impacted by the pandemic. Maintaining the highest level of service to our citizens required flexibility, adaptability, and a commitment to stay ahead of best practices in the field from our entire organization during these challenging times.
With that approach, we witnessed positive results from our efforts and we continue to look for more opportunities to improve the tools and strategies we use to care for our community.
Challenges and Opportunities
As the DNVFRS looks to the future, we will maintain a heightened awareness of the changes facing our community.
Our population is aging, which means we need to ensure pre-hospital care continues to meet the needs of this important demographic.
At the same time, as the number of wildfires rise due to climate change, we will continue to increase the work we do around wildfire mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
We are also revising our Fire Bylaw to improve clarification and create more effective interpretations that better reflect the community’s needs and provide better support for our department, organizational needs, and the manner in which we conduct business.
In 2019, we completed a 10-month process to identify and articulate our organizational mission, vision, and core values.
This process culminated in 2020, following a collaborative process over 11 months to deliver our five-year Strategic Plan 2020-202 .
This Strategic Plan 2020-2025 consists of four Strategic Priorities. These priorities are our long-term aspirations. Each priority identifies several Strategic Objectives that define what DNVFRS must do over the next five years to support our priorities, fulfill our mission, and move towards our vision, as well as tangible and measurable actions that we will take in the short term.
Fire Service Accreditation
We have currently progressed from being a ‘registered agency’ to being an ‘applicant agency’ as we work towards fire service accreditation through the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) and the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI).
Working towards achieving and maintaining Fire Service Accreditation will:
- Enhance awareness within the community of who we are
- Emphasize our dedication to excellence
- Establish a department-wide culture of continuous improvement
- Communicate our leadership vision and philosophy
- Build on our labour/management relationship
- Offer independent verification and validation of our operations
- Provide tangible and transparent data for decision making
This multi-year program is expected to take three years to complete. This will result in a thorough review and alignment of all sections of our business and will align us with industry best practices for emergency service agencies. The next step in the process is for the DNVFRS to attain ‘candidate agency’ status, with a goal of being granted the designation of an ‘accredited agency’ in March 2022.
Recognition by the CFAI is considered to be the highest level of recognition by peers within the Public Safety Industry.
To ensure that our fire investigators have the tools and personal protective equipment necessary to perform this mandated service, we commissioned a state-of-the-art fire investigation unit (FIU) in 2020, which has been well utilized for fire investigations and in support of other public safety outreach programs.
The FIU incorporates private areas for changing gear and preparing confidential paperwork, as well as a separate area for tools and equipment that helps improve the health and safety of our fire investigators by protecting them from carcinogens.
Pre-Fire Planning and Mobile Inspections
The mobile computers and digital devices on all fire engine apparatus have been linked to a new mobile software program.
The program allows for real-time updates and access to pre-incident plans — a site plan of a building and property to be used by, and ensure the safety of our firefighters. For 2021, the pre-incident planning program will be expanded to include high-risk construction sites, and communities at greatest risk of wildfire.
The new software program also provides us with access to pre-incident plans for our shared service partners in the District of West Vancouver and the City of North Vancouver.
We plan to move forward with a mobile fire inspection program for 2021.
Energy Efficient Public Fleet
Last year, we replaced 50% of our aging fleet of gas-fueled Public Safety vehicles with alternative fuel vehicles.
This switch has resulted in positive feedback from personnel and further reduces the District’s carbon footprint.
Plans are underway to replace the remaining Public Safety fleet with alternative fuel vehicles over the next two years.
Community Risk Reduction
To increase our interactions with the public, review and revise our programs, and identify new ways to reach at-risk groups, we’ve funded a new position for a Captain of Public Safety and Community Risk Reduction.
This position allows us to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the specific risks to our community demographic and design and create a community risk reduction plan. The result will be targeted public education programs for our community and stakeholders, including the redesign of our traditional public education programs to meet current COVID-19 protocols
Plans are underway with our partners in the City of North Vancouver and District of West Vancouver to partner on a redesigned Fire Safety House. Both the new Captain of Public Safety and Fire Safety House will provide the necessary updates to the Grade 3 fire safety outreach program, along with many other programs.
A FireSmart community puts valuable fire protection knowledge in homeowners’ hands, empowering them to improve safety for themselves, their families, and the community.
Being a FireSmart community means there is valuable fire protection knowledge shared with homeowners, which empowers the public and increases community resilience to wildfire across the District.
Our Public Safety Division continues to proactively engage with residents and communities across the District and we had two more areas achieve the designation of being FireSmart Communities in 2020.
Becoming FireSmart takes time and coordination with your neighbours and others, but getting started is actually relatively straightforward, and the DNVFRS is here to help.