Dec 1, 2005 | Marmot, Winter 2005

Fire Protection Solution Sought

Calling 911 from Mount Washington can send you police and ambulance, but not fire trucks. What about the Forest Service, you ask?

The Forest Service will respond to a report of a fire but could take some time to arrive. Then they’ll only assist in controlling a fire that threatens to spread into the surrounding forested area. They will not save a burning house.

“Fire protection is a serious issue at Mount Washington,” says Al Walker, Chairman of the Mount Washington Community Association. For the past couple of years, the Association has been working towards a fire service being established for the protection of the Mount Washington area.

In the fall of 2003 a petition aimed at establishing a fire service, and supporting a program of self-taxation to fund it, was defeated. Since that time the Community Association and the Regional District have been evaluating their alternatives.

In 2004 Rob Roycroft came out with a report on the viability of creating a fire service program at Mount Washington. The report made some recommendations, and the Community Association has created a mandate to carry out those recommendations.

There has already been an incident that emphasizes the need for fire services… an incident that could have been very serious. Some workers on a site near the hotels at Mount Washington hit a propane line. They called Oddleifson, he called the propane company and was promptly told to call 911- who won’t send a fire truck.

Whatever residents decide, it’s going to cost them money. The Association is trying to make sure residents get value for their decision. They are being prudent with their choices on handling the fire question, Walker said.

“The proposed fire service area tax bundle isn’t big enough to construct an actual building for the fire service,” Oddleifson said. “We’ll have some kind of lean-to that keeps the equipment protected. We won’t have an edifice.”

The Community Association is looking into alternate funding sources, such as government support, which would enable them to construct the building of their choosing.

If they had a wish list – and won the lottery – the Association would love to buy a Pisten Bully, a track-run vehicle that can travel on uneven ground or snow and is equipped with firefighting equipment. What they’ll likely have to settle for is a Cat with foam that stays at the Resort’s works yard, and run by a volunteer fire department.

“But we’ll still need to have a department that’s sanctioned and under the auspices and insurance of the Regional District,” Oddleifson said. “We can’t do something sly and cheap and put anybody at risk.”

To read a copy of the Roycroft report or stay up to date on the fire services issue, visit the MWCA online at

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