Stettler town council approves $179,000 for emergency radio equipment

Stettler RCMP as well as EMS and the Stettler Regional Fire Dept. were on scene at garage explosion on Thurs. Jan. 9. The Stettler RCMP responded at 11:30 this morning to 911 call that a building blew up in the industrial area east of Stettler. RCMP are on scene at 47 Avenue and 41 Street along with the Stettler Regional Fire Department. The area is being contained while emergency crews work at the site. One 54-year-old male was injured during the incident and will be flown via STARS Air Ambulance to an Edmonton hospital. Although the cause of the fire does not appear to be suspicious in nature, the investigation continues. No further information will be made available by the RCMP. ECA Review/Terri Huxley
Written by Stu Salkeld

Stettler town council approved upwards of $200,000 for new emergency radio equipment after hearing a detailed presentation by the regional fire chief. 

The presentation was made at the Jan. 18 regular meeting of council.

Regional Fire Chief Mark Dennis presented the results of his request for proposal (RFP) for equipment operable with the Alberta First Responders Radio Communication System (AFRRCS), which he explained was originally developed for the RCMP’s use but is now the system of choice for many emergency services providers.

“The AFRRCS is an interoperable province-wide public safety grade radio system,” stated Dennis in his memo. 

“The Alberta government has provided the network, operation and maintenance and it became operational on July 1, 2016. 

Public safety agencies using AFRRCS include fire, police, ambulance and secondary government responders.

“Agencies using AFRRCS are able to fully coordinate joint responses to emergency scenes, improve and integrate radio communication among first responders from different agencies, and use robust, resilient radio technology in day-to-day operations. 

Only the radios on the permitted radio list are allowed to be used on AFRRCS. The listed radios must deliver seamless operation and meet or exceed first responder’s basic communication and safety requirements.”

The regional fire chief stated this project has been in the works for a while. 

“This is a pretty exciting move for us,” said Dennis to council, adding there’s no charge to use the system but it requires specific equipment, the system doesn’t guarantee 100 per cent coverage but comes pretty close, and that the older “legacy” system will continue in use as well. 

Dennis stated the AFRRCS was conceived after the 911 terrorist attacks as agencies suffered communications problems.

The regional fire chief stated he released an RFP, not a tender, listing requirements Stettler had for AFRRCS equipment and while there was a lot of interest, only two proposals were received, both from Red Deer companies: Prairie Mobile which quoted $89,235.85 and Bearpaw which quoted $179,226.79, excluding tax.

Dennis’ recommendation was to go with Bearpaw, with whom the Stettler fire department has done business before Dennis noted. 

During discussion Dennis stated that while Prairie Mobile put a lot of information in their proposal, there was still some missing and Prairie Mobile hinted that more information would be coming after they were awarded the project. 

Dennis stated that approach doesn’t work very well for the Stettler department and added that’s partly why the two proposals were so far apart in dollar amount.

The regional fire chief stated the Bearpaw proposal included everything Stettler was looking for.

It was noted this is a town and County of Stettler joint project. 

“In 2018 staff recommended a joint town and county plan to replace regional fire department radio equipment with AFRRCS approved equipment in the fall of 2021,” stated the memo. 

“A staff recommendation was approved by council through separate town and county authorization for capital expenditure budget planning process.” 

It was pointed out the current request was only for the town portion of this project.

Dennis stated the project is a long-term one, and he predicted the department would have these radios for the next 20 years.

Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Greg Switenky told council this project was already approved in the budget, but the town purchasing policy requires expenditures over $25,000 to come to council for information.

Councillors unanimously supported Bearspaw’s proposal for AFRRCS radio equipment for $179,226.79 plus tax.


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.