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Fire service honoured for innovation


December 11, 2007
By Fire Fighting in Canada

The Hon. Iona Campagnolo, Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, presented the 2005 Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Public Safety.

The Hon. Iona Campagnolo, Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, presented the 2005 Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Public Safety to a team that developed an innovative approach to eliminating hazards of marijuana grow operations on Dec. 9 as well as to Kelowna Fire Chief Gerry Zimmermann.

“I am particularly pleased that both the individual and project recipients of this first Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Public Safety highlight the importance of co-operation and teamwork in addressing safety issues.  Every British Columbian can make a contribution toward improved safety in our communities, and these recipients provide a model for how to work together to achieve our safety goals,” said Campagnolo.

In a ceremony at Government House in Victoria on Dec. 9, Fire Chief Gerry Zimmermann was presented with the individual award in honour of his collaborative team-based approach during the Kelowna fires of 2003.  “His superb leadership and ability to create co-operative decision-making processes among all levels of government and the community during the 2003 firestorm ensured the safety of the people of Kelowna from catastrophe.  By his leadership and action, Chief Zimmermann has won the gratitude and respect of all British Columbians and the nation,” said the lieutenant-governor.

“Eliminating Residential Marijuana Grow Operations: An Alternative Approach” was honoured in the organization/project category.  Fire Chief Len Garis of the Surrey Fire Department, Dr. Darryl Plecas of the University College of the Fraser Valley, and Fire Chief Glen Sanders of the Shawnigan Lake Volunteer Fire Department were cited for their involvement in the development of this collaborative effort that places public safety before criminal prosecution.  “This innovative and successful approach focuses on the fire and electrical risks associated with grow-ops rather than the issue of criminality,” noted Campagnolo.  “It demonstrates the value of different agencies in the community working together to devise new approaches to old problems.”

The Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Public Safety will be presented annually to an organization and/or individual to honour exceptional leadership, innovation or achievement in the promotion of safety in British Columbia.  The Award is administered by the British Columbia Safety Authority, an independent not-for-profit corporation established to help make British Columbia’s communities safer.

“This award provides an opportunity to recognize significant contributions to safety and to encourage others to make safety a priority,” said Harry Diemer, President and Chief Executive Officer of the British Columbia Safety Authority.