Waives firefighting fee to landowners

A Stettler County landowner didn’t want to be left holding a bill to fight a grass fire on his land that started on someone else’s land.
Phil Jarmin told Stettler County council, during their March 14 regular meeting, that it wasn’t fair to bill four landowners $625 each for a massive fire Sept. 7, and said ATCO should be responsible instead because the fire likely started from power lines.
“An electrical short created by a bird caused a whip in the wires causing them to slap together,” said Jarmin.
He admitted the amount levied was reasonable and said he was grateful for the county’s $2,500 cap on what landowners can be billed but added that it wasn’t fair to be billed for a fire that didn’t originate on his land. The total cost to the county to fight the fire was $9,355.
“Most importantly, myself and my family are eternally grateful for the services of the fire department, the men and women that came that day to fight the fire and save our home and property.”
Stettler County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy said it’s difficult to determine what caused the fire and where it originated so all four landowners were sent a bill.
CAO Cassidy said ATCO considers the cause of the fire an act of God but ATCO has offered, as a sign of goodwill, to make a $2,500 donation to the Stettler Regional Fire Department.
Coun. Wayne Nixon said forgiving the invoices to the landowners would be precedent setting and suggested council forgive the bills with the explanation that the county allows ATCO to make a $2,500 donation to the fire department and encourage the four landowners to match ATCO’s donation.
Council approved the motion with Councillors Ernie Gendre and Dave Grover voting against.
Jarmin said he couldn’t speak for the other landowners and that he had wanted to make his donation anonymous, but after council’s vote he presented a cheque to the fire department that he had already written.

Lisa Joy
ECA Review

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