Alix council discusses fire chief process within new bylaw

Alix, Ab
Written by Stu Salkeld

Alix village council decided to tweak the process the municipality would use in the selection of a new local fire chief, a discussion that occurred as councillors pondered their proposed new fire department bylaw. The discussion was held during the Feb. 1 regular meeting of council.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White presented councillors with the amended form of the proposed new fire department bylaw.

Councillors previously suggested changes and passed first reading of the bylaw at a previous council meeting.

White reported since councillors passed first reading she met with both the Lacombe County regional fire chief and Alix’ own fire chief to give both officials a chance to look over the proposed fire department bylaw.

White stated both officials signed off on the draft bylaw with no serious concerns, while one small issue was identified.

“The only ‘but’ that I have in there (is council’s appointment of the local fire chief at the annual organizational meeting),” said White.

It was pointed out several times at the meeting Alix enjoys a good relationship with its long-serving fire chief who is doing a good job and it appears Alix has no reason to search for a new fire chief in the foreseeable future.

However, the CAO stated that after reviewing Alix council’s typical way of appointing the fire chief, there could be a problem. She stated that, in the future, if the fire department recommended someone as fire chief who, for whatever reason, village council declined to ratify it could be considered a termination which could result in legal risk.

Mayor Rob Fehr stated that when a new fire chief is selected the department’s fire captains should have a say in the process. White responded that it sounded like the mayor was suggesting a panel of some sort to find a fire chief when needed.

Coun. Tim Besuijen noted that he wouldn’t want Lacombe County getting involved to appoint Alix’ fire chief. Mayor Fehr chipped in that he was thinking the same thing.

White stated Alix has a long-serving fire chief so this issue has never came up, but Fehr seemed to disagree. He noted that some years ago there was a situation when an individual’s name was brought forward to be fire chief and there were reservations among village councillors.
“I don’t want to revisit that type of situation,” said Fehr.

The mayor noted a panel with stakeholders means everyone gets their say. The CAO added that, if a panel approach is used, no changes were required to the bylaw as it was presented.

“As long as the decision remains in Alix,” said Coun. Ed Cole.

As councillors discussed the proposed bylaw White informed them she made changes they asked for at a previous meeting, including a section that instructs firefighters, if attending a different municipality, to follow that municipality’s rules and that fireworks be included in the bylaw.

White stated the fire department currently has a member undergoing safety codes inspection training.

Councillors asked what feedback was received about the proposed bylaw after it was publicly advertised, and White said the village received no feedback at all.

Councillors unanimously approved second and third reading of the fire department bylaw.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.