Fire services agreement negotiations going well

ECA Review/File
Written by Stu Salkeld

The County of Stettler heard that negotiations with the Town of Stettler, including the hiring of an important new fire chief, have been progressing well. The report was made at the county’s Oct. 11 regular meeting of council.

Director of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk provided councillors with a verbal update on many different fire department projects currently ongoing.

Two of the biggest projects include a new regional fire services agreement with the Town of Stettler and the hiring of a new manager of regional fire services to go along with that agreement.

Brysiuk reported the first draft of the agreement has been written and is currently being reviewed internally by county staff before being sent to the town for their comments.

“Hopefully we’re not too far apart,” said Brysiuk.

Readers should note earlier this year the Town of Stettler stated it was cancelling the current agreement but after negotiations, both municipalities agreed to write a new agreement.

He also reported job interviews were scheduled to begin the second week of October for the new manager of regional fire services, noting that there were six applicants for the job and it’s likely three will be interviewed per day.

Brysiuk added both of these items, fire services agreement and manager of regional fire services, were described as priorities by councillors and he’s happy they seem to be progressing nicely.

Coun. Justin Stevens mentioned that a target date of Nov. 1 was previously mentioned for the new manager’s hiring. Brysiuk stated it might be a challenge to get the new manager working by Nov. 1, but he felt it’s very likely an offer will be extended to one of the applicants by Nov. 1, adding the successful applicant may not live in this area and may have to make moving arrangements.

Donalda department
Brysiuk gave a brief update on the Donalda Fire Dept., which was re-activated and re-equipped this year by the County of Stettler. He noted the department’s new members continue their training.

He also stated the County of Stettler would like to see the Donalda department eventually trained to the same service level as the other county departments.

Coun. Paul McKay stated that he had been informed the Donalda department is very close to getting back five firefighters who are also members of a nearby Hutterite colony and who previously left.

Out of service
Reeve Larry Clarke asked for an update on the County of Stettler’s out-of-service fire tender; a fire tender is a large, useful and usually expensive firefighting vehicle.

Councillors heard at previous meetings the fire tender is out of service due to a breakdown and the County of Stettler was having a lot of trouble getting it repaired.

Brysiuk stated he had no significant update for councillors: the vehicle remains in the same condition, parked on a lot in Red Deer and likely being winterized. He noted county staff have an insurance claim on the vehicle and have asked the insurance company to find the County of Stettler a replacement while the damaged unit is repaired.

The reeve noted he’s begun lobbying on behalf of the County of Stettler over this issue, including how the insurance claim has been handled. “This is very concerning to us,” said Clarke.

Councillors unanimously accepted all reports as information.

Retraction and apology
Coun. McKay told his peers he wished to retract some comments he made at a previous meeting regarding a Hutterite colony near Donalda and members of the colony who belonged to the local fire department. McKay also made an apology for those comments.

Councillors unanimously accepted the retraction and apology as information.

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.