Regional fire chief speaks to council

Number of false alarm calls cause concern

Ponoka County West District Fire Department had a busy year in 2018 responding to 129 calls. They respond to any incident in Ponoka County that are west of the 5th meridian (range road 283) which includes the Town of Rimbey, Summer Village of Parkland Beach and the highways.

Regional Fire Chief for Ponoka County, Dennis Jones, who gave his annual report at Rimbey town council meeting last Tuesday said the calls resulted in 1,287.5 man hours.

“Unfortunately, we’re still seeing a large number of false alarms,” he said, adding of the 129 calls, 34 were false alarms.

“That’s not good,” he said. “That’s 26% of the calls that takes the firefighters away from their jobs and families.” We looking to run an awareness campaign in 2019 to encourage residents to better maintain their alarm equipment and to work with their alarm monitoring companies to look at ways to reduce false alarm calls.

Of the calls Ponoka County West responded to, 21 were car or structure fires, 25 were grass/rubbish fires and 17 were vehicle accidents.

Public service calls which include the fire department assisting the RCMP or ambulance or other agencies resulted in 28 of the calls. Over and above that, there were four calls responding to other incidents such as reported gas leaks, downed power lines, etc.

Of the 129 calls the fire department responded to 52 calls (56%) came directly from the Town of Rimbey of which 19 were false alarms and 19 were public service calls to assist RCMP, EMS and other agencies.

In June, two certified instructors attended an advanced vehicle extrication course, later offering advanced courses at both fire halls (Ponoka County West and Ponoka County East) for fire fighters.

In October, Ponoka County hosted the Ponoka Regional Emergency Management partnership semi-annual meeting followed by a live exercise based on 2017 enhanced tabletop exercise.

Also in October, both halls held successful fire prevention week events. Ponoka County West held a community movie night with fire truck tours that was well attended.

Of special note, December saw Ponoka County West District Fire Chief John Weisgerber and Deputy Chief Bonnie Grundy receive their Provincial 22 year Alberta Emergency Services bars and Ponoka County West District Captain, David Hargest receive his Povincial 12 year Alberta Emergency services medal.

Jones told council that in 2019 departments will continue to focus on providing and arranging for quality training for fire response, emergency management and changes to the Safety Codes Council Fire Investigator/Inspector certifications.

The regional fire services policy and procedure will also be reviewed and updated as required as it’s been well over three years since the establishment of the Regional Fire Services.

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