By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
Lethbridge County is looking into adding an old partner back into it’s fire services agreement.
During the Sept. 21 regular meeting of Lethbridge County council, the county’s director of emergency services brought forth a request to look into adding the Village of Barons back into their regional fire agreement.
“Barons Fire Department has been rebuilding, internally, their services since 2010, when we terminated their agreement,” said Darryl Beaton. “They’ve since demonstrated a capacity that would provide Lethbridge County with a level of service and increased level of service by bringing them back under a new agreement.”
“Quite impressed actually with the work that they’ve done, even though they don’t provide services into the county, their internal working have been improved from their governance to their administration to their operations certainly under the direction of fire chief Byron Fraser.”
Noting that Barons had approached the county “many times” since the agreement was terminated to keep them up to date with what was going on with the department, Beaton added that they participated in all regional incentives, studies and workshops, as well as their ISO project.
Barons had approached the county a few weeks ago and had a discussion with administration and the emergency advisory committee. The recommendation coming out of that meeting was that the county pursues an agreement with Barons, at this time, including them in the 2018 operational budget. Any agreement drafted would need approval by council before it could be implemented, but at this time, they were looking for direction from council to draft an agreement.
“I think it’s kind of a major accomplishment for them to get as far as they have,” said Tom White, county councilor. “They were in pretty bad shape… and I’m very pleased to see this come forward.
County Reeve Lorne Hickey said that he had a discussion with Nobleford Mayor Don McDowell, who was in support of Barons coming back into the agreement, “although that doesn’t speak to the rest of the council”. He question about what their equipment was like, to which Beaton replied it was “not new”.
“They’ve acquired everything second hand or third hand or older,” said Beaton, noting they did receive an apparatus they retired out of Coaldale ten years ago and were still using that.
“I think now, to approach an agreement with the Village of Barons, it would be wise to consider their operational costs first, and hold off on any commitment to capital, until the ISO project is complete, until we have all the departments north of the river, looking at the fleet as a whole, before we make any commitment to changing their capital,” said Beaton.
Hickey inquired about the upcoming county fire engine for the Coaldale fire department, which is scheduled for delivery in fall 2018, asking if the old one there could go to Barons. Beaton noted it could, but first it needs significant repair at this time, about $50-60,000 worth, to get it back to a condition where it would pass the pump test.
When asked, Beaton said that other communities were supportive of the idea.
“Barons, one of their biggest strengths is their regional concepts, their desire to work regionally, and to be stronger, solidified as a regional unit then an individual unit,” said Henry Doeve, county councilor. “The fire chief, I just want to add, the fire chief in Barons is a high level, certified trainer, and he is training a lot of the local departments. So the training exercises have already starting to happen within the regional, group concept rather then the each individual department, so there’s a lot of benefits there. I’m really encouraged by what they’ve done, and how active they’ve been.”
Council passed a motion to direct the Emergency Advisory Committee and administration to take the necessary actions to adjust the Lethbridge County / Village of Nobleford Fire and Rescue Services Agreement and to reinstate the Village of Barons, under a new Fire and Rescue Services Agreement resulting in a division of the Village of Nobleford Primary Response Zone into two; the Village of Nobleford Primary Response Zone and the Village of Barons Primary Response Zone.