By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
In 2016, Nobleford Emergency Services is in the process of obtaining replacements for older equipment and some new to the fire hall equipment is on the way, as well — from new SCBA packs to Jaws of Life.
“That’s quite a deal for us, as a lot of stuff is fairly old,” said Fire Chief Ryan Wagner.
Wagner explained funds for the equipment is part of the department’s fire agreement under capital purchases, shared with Lethbridge County and the Village of Nobleford.
Training is also very important to all of the local emergency services departments. Wagner noted he and another member of the department went down to Colorado recently to attend Crude By Rail Emergency Response training, which is three days of intense training.
“That basically deals with any type of incident that could happen on a railway system with anything from train derailments to chemical spills to explosions to heavy fire from different materials,” Wagner said.
The training, Wagner said, is supported by CP Rail with the company paying for flights, accommodations and for the training.
“We put on a Crude By Rail intro about a year and a half ago at our fire station and that was an entry level into the training — what to do in hazardous or emergencies involving trains. The invite came out to us because we hosted that. We ended up getting two other people from the Coalhurst fire department coming along with us. What we can do is, we can take what we learned on this course and utilize it in our own station and our own training schedule,” said Wagner.
It’s scary, Wagner added, because there has been a trail derailment many years ago outside of Nobleford.
“It’s not that it’s not going to happen again, it’s just when. I know around here, there’s not a whole lot of education available or courses available to teach people how to deal with trains, other than the ones already taken for hazardous materials and some of the other emergency courses,” he said. For more info about Crude By Rail Emergency Response training visit online at sertc.org/courses/crude-by-rail-emergency-response-cbr.
According to Wagner, he likes to keep training focused on material outside the regular firefighting skills.
“There’s so much more to the emergency services than regular firefighting and motor vehicle collisions. There’s confined space entrance to Crude By Rail,” he said, adding he’d like to also focus on farm safety such as a grain rescue course, which would be an asset to rural Alberta.
“We’ve seen a lot of these types of incidents on farms before and the farm safety is something we’re definitely trying to put our goals to this summer,” he said. It is hoped plans are also on tap to offer Level One and Level Two firefighter in-house training in the fall.
Nobleford and area also stepped up recently to help out their friends in Fort McMurray with fire funds relief. Wagner said he approached the firefighter society and asked how much money the society could set aside to get donations together and help out.
“We talked about donating with Red Cross but a lot of the people that donated wanted to give physical stuff, not just money. We had donations from the Nobleford Ag Society, a large number of local farmers, individuals that live inside Nobleford and we had people giving us donations left, right and centre. Basically, they gave us a lot of cash donations to which we ended up going to get roughly $13,000-14,000 of supplies. Anything from essentials to packaged food to diapers,” Wagner said.
Wagner said the Lethbridge County area doesn’t have the same type of landscape as Fort McMurray with forested areas surrounding the community but the Lethbridge County area does have similar areas of concern.
“Like tall grass lands, the fields and even some of the old structures around the village and outside of the village in Nobleford. We’ve had quite a few large scale grass fires over the years that luckily have not been in our area but we’ve been a part of. Something like that could definitely happen here,” he noted.
Wagner said training is never-ending and a firefighter can never stop learning skills to help in emergencies.
“You’re never going to stop getting new techniques because there’s many different ways on doing things,” Wagner said.