By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Coaldale’s former Fire Chief Jean-Guy Mayer is no longer an employee of the Town of Coaldale, according to Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kalen Hastings but Acting Fire Chief Gary Gettman is at the helm for the next six months, while Coaldale and partners unveil a pilot internship program with emergency services.
”As with any town employees, both past and present, the town is not in a position to comment on the particulars other than the fact Mr. Mayer is no longer an employee of the town. His last day was Mar. 29. We wish him well in his future endeavours,” noted Hastings.
Hastings said the town is confident in its ability to move forward with an excellent Emergency Services Department that’s dedicated, well trained and experienced — and none of that has changed.
”Former Deputy Fire Chief Gary Gettman has been appointed acting chief for the next six months. He’s a veteran to the industry and a proven commodity. Our trust in his ability to lead our department is well placed,” Hastings said.
Acting Fire Chief Gettman said the department is going to stay the course and continue to provide the same high quality of service the department has always provided.
“I’m particularly thankful for the great group of firefighters around me that have been both helpful and supportive during this transitionary time,” added Gettman.
Hastings explained Gettman has been with the department since 1988 and has been Coaldale’s deputy fire chief since 2010.
Prior to the arrival of former Fire Chief Mayer in November 2015, Hastings noted, Andy Van Rijn was fire chief for 30 years but retired in January of this year.
In partnership with the Coaldale and District Emergency Services Volunteer Association, the Town of Coaldale and Lethbridge County — a six-month daytime internship pilot program will be launched.
”Where firefighters will be presented an opportunity to provide daytime station support to compliment the emergency response aspects of the department,” Hastings noted.
The internship program will be administered through the Coaldale and District Emergency Services’ volunteer association and the interns will be given an honourarium in appreciation of their time and service.
Key duties and responsibilities of the daytime interns include:
* Medical first response (for medical response duties, the minimum level of training/certification that is required for at least one of the interns responding to a medical call is that of Emergency Medical Responder EMR)
* Assist with vehicle and equipment checks
* Ensure all apparatus and equipment is maintained in accordance with current regulations and policies
* Preventative maintenance
* Truck washing
* PPE/turnout maintenance and cleaning where required
* Monitor inventory and make recommendations to the fire chief regarding the need for equipment replacement and repair
* In consultation with the fire chief, schedule heavy equipment for regular maintenance and, if required, repairs
* Battery testing
* Respond to fire calls during the day
* Facilitation of school tours and community outreach
* Assist fire chief with the creation of training plans and activities
* Assist fire chief, where directed, with research activities and the preparation of written reports
* Support and assist with the organization of volunteer firefighter activities and events (including running errands, planning and organizing, picking up and purchasing supplies, etc.)
* Station cleaning and maintenance.
Essentially, Hastings said, the town is in a regional partnership with the county for the provision of emergency services. The six-month period, Hastings added, is an excellent opportunity for the town to assess whether the pilot program has merit, long-term, well beyond the experimental phase.
“Our intention at the conclusion of the six-month pilot period is to share the results of this program with Municipal Affairs to see if they would give consideration to funding a program like this on a go-forward basis, under the current internship program they oversee. To date, under the internship program with Municipal Affairs, there are funding programs available for accountants, planners and future CAOs — what’s missing in their assortment of internship opportunities is the field of emergency services,” said the CAO.
Based on the members with the emergency services department, Hastings said, there is no reason to believe this innovative program won’t be a success.
“We are very excited about the potential and looking to get this started within the next couple of weeks,” he added.
Hastings said the internship program will give existing emergency services members a chance to provide support in the preventative aspects of running a fire department’s daytime station duties that are important and integral to the success of the department’s ability to respond to a call.
“We are excited to see, in tandem, having the internship program provide that augmentation and support to what Mr. Gettman already brings to the table,” he said.
During a Lethbridge County council meeting held Apr. 21, a report was submitted to council for consideration and as information in regards to the pilot program. The report stated there will be no cost savings or additional expenditures for the county, in regards to this program. “I think it’s out of the box thinking to fill that position,” said Darryl Beaton, emergency services department supervisor for the county.
At the end of the day, Beaton explained, on a full-time daily basis the Town of Coaldale will have three officers working out of the fire hall instead of two.
“Which is what we’re used to — for the same cost to the county,” Beaton said.