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merritt fire Rescue

Last week Q101 had the story about the needs of the Merritt Fire Department ahead of the 2019 municipal budget discussion.

You can check out that full article right here.

Earlier this week it was Chief Dave Tomkinson’s turn to make his pitch to city council. The Chief reiterated many of the same issues he brought forth in his conversation with Q101. Making note of their aging and failing equipment.

“In 2018 we responded to 786 emergencies, which means we came into contact with thousands of people. Although we didn’t save a life everyday, we definitely affected a live everyday,” said Chief Tomkinson.

On their list, is replacements for old self-contained breathing apparatus’ (SCBA’s), the air cylinder for the SCBA’s, new turnout gear and a new tender truck.

“Right now, we have 24 SCBA’s in use, and we’ve had the issue that many of them are failing us and there’s no longer a manufactures warranty. So, they’re quite expense to repair and they’re near end of their life,” said Tomkinson. “Along with that includes the actual air cylinders that are interchangeable on them. Right now, we have some 30-minute rated bottles and some 45-minute rated bottles.”

The Chief mentioned that different bottles pose a safety risk with respect to firefighters having the correct gear. The difference in the bottles is due to a change in national standards.

Replacing all the Departments SCBA’s comes in at around $242,000 and replacing all 38 air cylinders is $56,000.

“Our turnout gear has a maximum life expectancy of 10-years, and a lot of the gear is coming up short. We’re having some actual failures when they go through inspection,” said Tomkinson. “We have to look at the cost of repairing that, versus if it has a year left and in many cases it’s not permissive to go and spend those funds.”

“Over time what has happened is, we have a regular replacement schedule, but products become more expensive we haven’t increased the budget, but we have just bought less,” said Chief Tomkinson. “We’re starting to get behind to the point where we don’t have enough turnout gear, jackets and pants, for our firefighters.”

During the portion of the presentation regarding the proposed new pumper tender truck, Councillor Melvina White asked about the apparatus being more beneficial for the TNRD than the actual city of Merritt.

“Not in my point of view. I’m all after pumping capacity with respect to our fire underwriters and out insurance grading, that’s what I’m most interested in. The value to them is that there are no fire hydrants out where we’re operating,” said Chief Tomkinson.

Mayor Linda Brown asked about the ability to make less lump sum purchases and spreading the dollars out over time.

“We’re trying to work on a 15-year cycle. For equipment like this, it’s hard to bring in something, where you bring in five that meet a new code change, but then you have 25 or 30 that don’t meet that. They kind of have to be replaced every 15 years in a lump sum,” said Chief Tomkinson.

Budget talks are continuing at city hall this month as council looks to finalize the 2019 budget.


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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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Tyner Family 2019

(The Tyner family; from left to right Richard, Jennifer and Jack)

This morning (March 19th) the Southeast Major Crime Unit released the following news with regards to the Ben Tyner Investigation being ruled suspicious.

Investigators from the Southeast District Major Crime Unit (SED MCU) and Merritt RCMP have been working hard to determine what led to Ben Tyner’s sudden disappearance in late January.

Tyner was reported missing to the Merritt RCMP on January 28, when his rider-less horse was discovered on a logging road off Highway 97 near Winnie Flats. Following his disappearance, RCMP, Search and Rescue, Air Services, Police Dog Services, and Volunteers combed the area, on foot, in vehicles, on snowmobiles, horseback, helicopters and utility vehicles, sadly Mr. Tyner was not located.

Early on investigators from the SED MCU were called to support the Merritt RCMP’s investigation, these investigators can now confirm that Mr. Tyner’s disappearance is being investigated as suspicious.

“Sometimes at the onset of an investigation there are pieces that don’t quite fit and while there is nothing definite, they warrant further investigation,” said BC RCMP Media Relations Officer Sgt, Janelle Shoihet. “Now having had the opportunity to review all the pieces, we believe that the circumstances surrounding Mr. Tyner’s disappearance may involve criminality.”

The investigation remains a priority for the SED MCU and the Merritt RCMP. In order to protect the integrity of this active and ongoing investigation, no further details can be provided.

Anyone who has information about Mr. Tyner’s disappearance is asked to contact the Merritt RCMP at 250-378-4262 or SED MCU Tip Line at 1-877-987-8477.

Q101 reached Sgt. Janelle Shoihet for comment and she added the following.

“After almost two full months of investigating they have made a determination that Mr. Tyner’s disappearance is indeed suspicious. Initially there wasn’t enough to make that determination, but after putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, they now have determined that something isn’t quite right. There’s nothing in particular that we can speak to as far as specific information. But we can certainly say that now that having had an opportunity to review all the materials, look at all the evidence, that they’re pretty confident that Mr. Tyner did not disappear by his own means, and that there’s criminality related to his disappearance,” said Sgt. Shoihet.


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Premier John Horgan along with the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser and Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Doug Donaldson will be at the Coldwater School Gym on Wednesday (March 20th) at 11:30am to sign a protocol agreement with the five Nicola Chiefs regarding acquisition plans for the Gateway 286 lands.

more to come


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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt


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Pozzy Statue

During department budget presentations to Merritt City Council on Monday (March 18th) the future of the Ty Pozzobon carving garnered a lot of attention from Mayor Linda Brown and council.

The previous city administration had approved a recommendation regarding the piece but not put an official dollar figure on it. Director of Corporate Services Sean Smith outlined the commitment.

“Council agreed to pour the concrete pad and as well as to put up the security fencing. So, the reason that we didn’t put a dollar figure at the time is I don’t think it was perfectly known what type of fencing would be used. So, those are the two commitments from the city,” said Smith.

Mayor Brown was concerned about the changes to the plan without proper consultation of council.

Councillor Kurt Christopherson who was a member of the previous council spoke to the situation and learning from it in the future.

“Previous council made a commitment on an emotional basis, and not all the tax and figures were available at the time. I think we made the commitment, we follow through on it. Next time we learn how to ask the questions right,” said Christopherson.

The costs of the enclosure are being partially offset by the Pozzobon Foundation however that exact number is not yet known.

Councillor Mike Bhangu asked Recreation Manager Sky McKeown about the possibility of plaques accompanying the carving.

“There will be two information displays put up, one being about Ty Pozzobon and the foundation and ‘Live Like Ty’ and what it’s about. And then another display talking about mental health, the importance of it and those that are still living with it,” said McKeown.


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Charlie Council

Mayor Linda Brown didn’t even wait for Charlie Henderson, City of Merritt’s Public Works Superintendent, to finish before asking council to make a motion to approve 600,000 dollars in the 2019 budget for a backup power generator. The motion was unanimously approved by council and will be presented to them again in the coming weeks for final adoption.

The current pump is 48 years-old and only has the capacity to pump 50 litres compared to the cities peak need of 196. Henderson spoke to council about the aging pump.

“In the event of emergency where power is lost the current back-up water supply motor is 48 years-old,” said Henderson. “Researching the motor identified that parts are now obsolete, repairs are still needed and the motor is currently not able to produce enough water.”

Along with obvious limitations to the city, it also would affect the Merritt Fire Department's ability to fight a fire during the power outage.

“If there is an emergency, like a wild fire, and the fire department requires water we don’t have enough water to supply that. With this $600,000 we will, we will be able to refill our reservoirs, power our UV project and we’ll also be able to power the civic centre to set up an EOC with power,” said Henderson.

“In the event of the emergency, if we have to bring a generator into town to run our water system, that is not a reimbursable expense, because we are required as a municipality to have a back-up plan in place,” said acting CAO Sheila Thiessen.

Henderson was relaying concern about the long timeline on the project when Mayor Brown asked for a motion to approve the generator.

While the project has not received final adoption yet, the motion will also Henderson to start moving forward on the lengthy project that he hopes will be completed by the end of the year.


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