By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Coalhurst and District Emergency Services Fire Chief Mathew Conte said the department is 23 members strong at the moment.
“All are active members and are responding and no probationary at the time,” he said.
“We do have three openings. However, we are in a course right now, so we’ve kind of postponed the hiring of those three until after this course is over and then we’ll look at finishing off and try to fill the last three remaining spots,” Conte added.
According to Conte, the department has purchased all of the radios for the new AFRRCS or Alberta First Responder Radio Communications System.
“We are actually on that in a trial phase right now,” he said.
“We are testing out the area, so far we haven’t had any issues. The coverage, as well as just the clarity in communication, has just been second to none.”
The dispatch portion, Conte added, will hopefully be in action by the end of the year.
“We’re still dispatched off the old system but all of our fire ground communications are through AFRRCS. We’re hoping dispatch will be online towards the end of the year,” Conte said.
Conte also noted the department recently completed putting together a new command truck.
“What it does is, it gives an incident commander that extra time to actually get on scene first and organize the scene and find out exactly what we have, so we can relay the information back to the responding units and deploy equipment appropriately,” he explained.
The past year has been busy, Conte said.
“There seems to be more meetings than anything,” he joked.
“This year, right now, we’re at 133 calls for the year. It puts us on pace to pretty much average for the last few years.”
But, the department still sees a lot of medical first response calls.
“We are seeing more fire and motor vehicle collision too but everything seems to be kind of average, as far as call volume goes,” he added.
Since the intersection heading into Coalhurst from Highway 3 has been completed, Conte said, there’s only been one accident there, which is good news and the Town of Coalhurst is in the process of developing a secondary route for travellers.
“What they’re doing is through 22-3, they know have it dug up and paving, which I do believe paving is now complete. It should be open in the next few weeks. In 2017, they’ll pave the remaining section out to Highway 25 for a full paved route,” he explained.
It is Fire Prevention Week and Conte said last week the department visited local schools to give fire safety presentations to students.
“The main goal we want to get behind students is check your smoke alarms every time you change your clocks ahead and back, make sure they get new batteries and everything works and give them a test on a monthly basis by pressing the test button,” he said.