Efforts to resurrect a rural fire department in the northern part of the County of Stettler appear to be progressing nicely.
Manager of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk provided councillors with an update on Donalda’s reactivation at the July 12 meeting; the County of Stettler has been working with partners and community volunteers to get the department up and running again.
Brysiuk stated the firefighter’s personal protective equipment (PPE) for light duty responses such as medical response and wildland fires has been ordered while communications issues are being ironed out.
Brysiuk reported the department needs more pagers, but they’re back ordered and don’t seem likely to appear soon. He added members of the Donalda department will share pagers until further notice.
Donalda’s practices and training has been progressing smoothly, with firefighters trained in water pumps, driver training, truck equipment, fire behaviour, strategies and general safety while Brysiuk stated it’s hoped that when the PPE and pagers show up the department will be ready to go.
Coun. James Nibourg asked where the County of Stettler is with the hiring of new regional fire department personnel.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy stated councillors would discuss that in their private closed session later in the meeting.
Coun. Justin Stevens asked where the county stands with repairs to the Donalda fire tender vehicle, which in the past has been described as a large, important and expensive firefighting vehicle.
Cassidy responded the county has had a terrible time finding spare parts for the damaged tender and it appears parts won’t be available earlier than 2024.
Coun. Dave Grover asked if Byemoor and Big Valley departments have been training with Donalda, but Brysiuk answered that Big Valley has been training in Stettler and suspected Byemoor would be welcome to do the same.
Brysiuk also stated that it will be months before Donalda is fully equipped and fully trained.
Coun. Paul McKay, who represents the Donalda area, noted he’s attended every fire department meeting and it seems that the department is missing some equipment but is otherwise ready to go.
He observed there are about 12 firefighters at every Donalda meeting.
McKay noted he’d also received a ratepayer question about why the hydrants in the Village of Donalda were out of service. Brysiuk responded the hydrants in Donalda can’t provide the water pressure the fire trucks need.
Coun. Stevens asked when the County of Stettler would begin discussing fire protection services with smaller communities now that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed with the Town of Stettler.
“I would imagine soon,” responded Cassidy.
Brysiuk added that, during negotiations with the Town of Stettler, the county did remain in touch with the smaller communities to keep them in the loop. He noted the topic of ensuring Donalda remains within the County of Stettler fire department fold was also an important topic.
Coun. Grover observed he’d heard feedback from county residents who want to ensure their fire protection is solid despite living somewhat far from the Town of Stettler.
Councillors unanimously accepted the rural fire department update as information.
Local Journalism Initiative reporter