Bashaw Council will negotiate over disputed firefighting bill

Bashaw town council decided it will negotiate with a property owner who disputed a firefighting bill. The decision was made at the June 19 regular meeting of council.

Councillors read a letter from local business owner Shane Kamaleddine who stated he had a fire on his property last year but it wasn’t serious enough to call 911.

However, it appeared a bystander did call the fire department and Kamaleddine ended up with an almost $2,000 firefighting bill he claims he didn’t need.

“In July of 2023 we had a small fire on our property we were able to extinguish on our own,” stated Kamaleddine’s letter dated June 11, 2024. “A third party called the fire department and when they arrived there was no fire to put out.

“With our tax notice a bill was included for the response on our property, which we don’t feel to be fair and therefore ask you to dismiss this charge.”

Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller stated that upon investigation it was revealed there was a small grass fire near the Kamaleddine’s business which was extinguished by the business owner and his staff.

The fire was close to the business, vehicles were nearby, the business was operating, the fire was visible next to a power pole and the Bashaw Fire Department responded with several units to eventually put water on the scene.

Fuller pointed out the Town of Bashaw billed according to its policy in this instance; the fire response bill was $1,950. Fuller also stated the bill wasn’t paid so it was placed on Kamaleddine’s property taxes.

Coun. Kyle McIntosh stated he sympathized with Kamaleddine because the councillor’s been in a similar situation in a different community.

Coun. Bryan Gust also sympathized, musing that someone could have, for example, a smoky fire pit in their backyard where a concerned third party calls the fire department and the property owner ends up with a substantial firefighting bill through no fault of their own.

“I would be frustrated if that happened to me,” said Gust.

Mayor Rob McDonald also seemed open to reducing the firefighting bill.

Coun. Cindy Orom asked if any similar situation had ever occurred in Bashaw and if so how it was handled. However, staff gave no response so it’s not clear if any such situation ever occurred before.

The CAO stated the facts include a phone call for fire service and that the Bashaw firefighters subsequently attended the scene with equipment; therefore, the billing is valid. However, town council has the authority to waive the billing if they wish.

McIntosh stated he would be in favour of reducing the billing in this case, but added, since firefighters attended the scene, something should be billed.

He made a motion to reduce Kamaleddine’s bill by $1,300 but that was unanimously defeated in a vote.

As councillors discussed options, the CAO noted reducing the bill won’t have any negative effect on the fire department as their expenses were already covered by the Town of Bashaw.

Councillors unanimously passed a resolution to authorize the CAO to negotiate with Kamaleddine over this billing.

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.