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Tuesday October 4th, 2011  
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   Volume 81 - Issue 40 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: news@passherald.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
"We've heard good things about Crowsnest, and the people here are friendly"
- Sergeant Keith Bott  
   
   

 

 
The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass announced last Thursday, September 29th that fire and rescue services will be amalgamated in order to facilitate a more efficient Emergency Response model.
Fire, Rescue, EMS, RCMP, Disaster Emergency Response Preparedness, Emergency Services and Enforcement Services will all be united into one Protective Services Department.
“The new system will guarantee a minimum level of service,” said Interim Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Robins in an interview with the Pass Herald.
As part of the change, the four separate fire departments and Crowsnest Pass Rescue will form one department with two districts, the West District (Coleman and Blairmore) and East District (Bellevue and Hillcrest).
Crews will operate out of the existing fire halls, and squads will remain as are, but will now be under one management and command system.
The entire system will be headed by the Director of Protective and Community Services (an administrative position within the municipality) with one Manager of Protective Services / Fire Chief, one Deputy Fire / Rescue Chief, two District Chiefs and a Rescue and Support Commander, four Platoon Captains for each District (two for each of the existing fire departments) and three platoon captains for Rescue.
Each station will consist of two platoons made of up 10 firefighters, with 20 men on call at one time, with the expectation that a minimum of 10 will respond to each fire call, effectively manning two pumpers.
Individual volunteer firefighters will be on standby one weekend out of the month, and must be available to respond to calls, meaning they cannot consume alcohol or leave town.
“It creates a lesser burden on each and every fireman,” said Robins, adding that with the amount of crews and different stations, volunteers may only be required to be on standby one out of every six weekends.
“Each and every person that joins the fire department does so to provide assistance and volunteer their time, and that does disrupt family and work life,” he said.
 

“This will lessen that burden, and at the same time, provide a minimum guarantee of response.”
Cross training will also occur, in order to equip all responders with the same abilities and training.
As well as receiving additional training, members will be required to meet physical fitness standards.
“This will serve to create a minimum level of training that they’ll have before they respond to fires,” said Robins.
“It ensures it is safe for them to do their job, and that they can provide safety to everyone else working with them and those they are helping.”
All firefighters will also receive a monthly honorarium (payment) in addition to a minimum $15 per hour wage for fire calls.
“The honorarium is in recognition of their significant contributions to the community,” said Robins.
Robins said the honorarium will be based on the individual’s position, experience and training, as will payment for fire calls.
The minimum level of pay for fire calls will be $15 per hour, with a higher amount being paid as per qualifications and training.
The positions of Fire Chief, Deputy Chief, District Chief, and Rescue Squad Commander will be appointed - as opposed to the current system of squads electing their chief - and will be given to applicants based on qualifications, experience and years of service.
According to Robins, Council and Administration came to the decision to amalgamate fire and rescue services after determining that the four individual fire departments and separate rescue squad was an inefficient system, incapable of guaranteeing a minimum level of emergency response to the community.
“As it stands now, when you pull the fire alarm, it’s a roll of the dice as to the response you will receive, and that is not acceptable,” said Robins.
He said the initial response from the fire departments has been luke-warm at best.
“There are always those in the system that don’t like change, some who are very open to change, and some who are skeptical,” he said.
“However, this change is necessary in order to put a formal structure in place.”
Check out next week’s issue of the Pass Herald for a follow-up with the fire chiefs.
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