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Tuesday October 11th, 2011  
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   Volume 81 - Issue 41 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: news@passherald.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
"Everybody should have warm feet at Christmas."
- Shael Davidson  
   
   

 

 
The organizational changes to Emergency Response services which were announced by the Municipality on September 29th are being met with mixed reactions from local fire departments.
“We have mixed feelings,” said Coleman Deputy Fire Chief Doug Cox.
“These changes are definitely going to increase service… and we feel we should be doing whatever the province sets as the minimum standard, but we would also like to be consulted on how we can meet those standards.”
Blairmore Fire Chief Jamie Margetak said he was also disappointed the fire chiefs were not consulted when the municipality was looking at restructuring protective services.
“I think it was poorly handled,” said Margetak.
“So far, we have been told what we’re going to do, instead of being consulted,” said Cox.
“We can see it’s going to be very expensive, and we think we know better ways to meet those standards without the increased cost to the taxpayer.”
Cox recognized that the changes came as a result of the province making changes to the Alberta Fire Code earlier this year, in response to several house fires in Calgary and Edmonton.
In several newer communities where homes are built very close together, house fires can spread quickly and damage several properties.
The changes to the Fire Code, and subsequent restructuring of several municipal emergency response departments, were instituted in order to rectify this and other problems facing fire crews.
 

Cox said the issue of homes being built too close together is only an issue in some areas of the Crowsnest Pass, but that the changes will provide an altogether higher standard of service than we have had in previous years.
Margetak said a major hurdle in local fire departments adhering to these new standards will be the availability of volunteers.
“In a big city it might work, but we’re in a situation where most of our guys – about 80 per cent - are working four-on, four-off shift work at the mines,” said Margetak.
“It is tough to make sure you have people available,” he said.
“I don’t think it will work.”
Both Cox and Margetak agreed that the proposed model is far from perfect and in need of adjustments.
“The model needs to be tweaked,” said Margetak.
“As it stands, we’re going back 10 years.”
Cox said the ease of transition will depend on involvement from the four fire departments and rescue.
“It is going to depend on how the Municipality treats the firemen,” said Cox.
“If they ask us for input on how we might be able to do it for cheaper, then it will probably be a fairly easy transition,” he said.
“If things are dictated to us, and we have no input, it is going to be hard on the taxpayer, and we’re taxpayers too.”
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