The Whistler fire department has entered into a mutual aid agreement with the Garibaldi, Squamish and Pemberton fire departments.
This isn't anything new. They've had a mutual agreement with the Garibaldi Fire Department. It came time to renew that agreement and they decided to extend it to the Pemberton and Squamish fire departments as well.
Mutual aid means that any of the partners have the ability to call on neighbouring communities to assist with an incident that may be too big to deal with on their own, at no extra cost to the community.
"A forest fire is a really good example of that," said Sheila Kirkwood, assistant chief of the Whistler Fire Department. "It might be just slightly outside of our resource capabilities, and so it's having that agreement already in place so that when we call them, everybody knows what they're responsibilities already are."
For example, if there's a fire in Garibaldi Provincial Park, Whistler will assist by sending their on-duty crew and a fire apparatus from the closest fire hall.
"But if we were busy and we had other stuff going on, then we have no obligation to send any of our people or equipment at all. No obligation. It basically sets out the conditions that when you do get the call at two in the morning, you don't have to be thinking about the details of it. Those are already in place," she said.
"It's not something that you would call upon very often. Really it's like a good neighbour agreement. I'm here to help you, you're here to help me."
The agreement doesn't apply to incidents that will take a lot of time and manpower, such as large-scale forest fires that may take days to extinguish. In those circumstances, the community fire departments will ask for provincial aid.
This agreement does not change any of the boundaries for any of the communities, nor does it include the entire SLRD.
"We are not now responsible for responding to the Callaghan Lodge and all that. That's still the primary responsibility of the Squamish Lillooet Regional District," Kirkwood said.
Another benefit will include joint training exercises for all fire halls involved, though this has yet to be set up. Kirkwood said it would make sense in dealing with large-scale incidents.
"If we've already trained and practiced together, it just makes it that much more seamless (in dealing with) that incident," she said.