Stettler county council heard one of the municipality's main goals this summer has been achieved: the Donalda Fire Dept. is up and running again. The report was made to councillors at their Aug. 9 regular meeting.
Director of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk provided councillors with a verbal update on the Donalda Fire Department, along with the Byemoor and Big Valley departments, plus some information about the new fire services agreement with the Town of Stettler.
Brysiuk stated upgrading of the departments is proceeding well, the county is mostly just waiting on back-ordered equipment.
One of the items back-ordered is an air compressor, plus equipment for the Donalda Fire Dept., which had been closed in past years but re-opened through a grassroots community effort and the help of the County of Stettler.
Brysiuk stated waiting for the back-ordered items is frustrating. “Supply chain is always a challenge for everybody right now,” said Brysiuk.
He went on to note the Donalda Fire Dept. responded to its first emergency call-out Aug. 7, so the department is again active in the community with the department officially open. “So that’s really exciting news,” said Brysiuk. “Really proud of the guys that are up there.”
Reeve Larry Clarke asked how many firefighters responded to the Aug. 7 call, but Brysiuk responded he didn’t know because he hasn't read the incident reports yet.
Coun. Paul McKay reported some sad information: a member of the Donalda fire department passed away. He also noted that the Donalda department may be losing five more firefighters for a different reason.
“It’s politics,” said McKay. “They’re from the Donalda (Hutterite) Colony.”
McKay also brought in a set of Donalda firefighting equipment to his fellow councillors. McKay reported this equipment was for wildland or grassfire call-outs and the members were very happy with them.
“The firefighters who’ve joined are just ecstatic to get this stuff,” said McKay, who added not all of the equipment was exactly what was desired but it was the equipment that was available from suppliers.
The reeve stated if those five firefighters leave the department he’d like to know what happened. Brysiuk stated he plans to talk to the Donalda fire chief about this situation. Otherwise, noted Brysiuk, the Donalda department is happy with its retention and regular recruitment drives will be held.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy provided a verbal update on the status of one of the County of Stettler’s fire tenders that is currently damaged and out of commission.
Readers should note a fire tender is a large firefighting vehicle that usually comes with a hefty price tag.
Cassidy noted the county has been having no luck at all finding parts to repair the tender; it currently sits out of commission. The CAO noted she may talk to the insurance company about a replacement.
During discussion some suggestions were made on how to find replacement parts, but Cassidy responded all those avenues proved fruitless. No parts are available and the vehicle remains non-functional, she noted.
Coun. Justin Stevens asked if ease of repair should be taken into account when purchasing emergency vehicles, to which Cassidy answered “Yes.”
Stevens stated if the vehicle is going to be sitting nonfunctional for a year or longer, that vehicle’s value has to be questioned.
Brysiuk pointed out some fire tenders are larger and more expensive but offer more features, and the county’s non-functional vehicle fits that description.
Coun. Dave Grover suggested including ease of repair in future purchasing efforts.
Lastly, the CAO reported that the County fo Stettler and Town of Stettler have been receiving excellent resumes for the new regional fire chief position; she added it appears there is a lot of interest in this job.
Cassidy stated she’s hoping to see the regional fire chief in place by Oct. 1, with the new County of Stettler fire chief hired afterwards.
Councillors unanimously accepted the fire department update as information.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review