By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Lethbridge County has approved a one time payment to the Town of Nobleford and Picture Butte to help support the transition after the Village of Barons Fire Department was forced to disband earlier this spring.
The item was brought before council for a second time, on Aug. 4, following an inquiry and report presented during the July 7 council meeting, At this time, Council received a letter from the Town of Nobleford requesting transition funding to support additional fire response equipment purchased after the closure of the Barons Fire Department. Council directed administration to report back after doing some more research into the agenda item. The Nobleford Fire Department absorbed approximately 75 per cent of the area formerly served by Barons, with Picture Butte taking on about one quarter of land within Baron’s jurisdiction.
According to Director of Community Services for Lethbridge County, Larry Randle, letters were sent to both Picture Butte and Nobleford asking both municipalities for clarity on how the Baron’s closure had impacted expenses, equipment needs, or ways in which the department needed to respond to emergencies in the Town or the new area taken over from Barons. Nobleford’s Fire Chief, Ryan Wagner said, “there is always a cost to emergency services, which we try to utilize funding in the best ways suited for all the residences in all municipalities that we service.”
Wagner told Sunny South News the Baron’s closure, “has not overly impacted us to the point where I’d say it (is) busier, but we have responded into the village of Barons for about half a dozen medical calls since, and a couple other calls out in the county.”
Wagner added that in covering a large service area, travel times are a factor. “Our members have and continually try to get to the station and out to the emergency location as quick as possible,” but that this can be challenging, particularly when a call for service is placed to more remote locations in the county.
“As for call volume, we are prepared and ready to respond when the time comes in the northern part of our district. Historically speaking, (the) majority of our calls are in the central and southern part of our district.”
As for Nobleford providing fire response service into the Village of Barons, Randle explained “discussion and negotiations are occurring with respect to (a formal fire services agreement) and in the event that there is a fire there today in Barons, the Town of Nobleford is ready, willing, and able to respond even without a formal agreement in place.”
Wagner added, “Our respective Town/village representatives are discussing a type of agreement in order for us to serve the residents of the village of Barons,” adding, “we are committed to providing quality service for the village of Barons, and the surrounding portion of the County.”
During the council meeting, a number of recommendations were put forward including a resolution to approve the $25,000 request to Nobleford, decline the request outright, or provide a partial fulfillment of the request. Ultimately, council decided to provide a portion of the $25k request to the Town of Nobleford, and a portion to Picture Butte, relative to how much land was absorbed into the respective Town’s service areas.
Wagner added in addition to any logistical and financial impacts of the closure of the Baron’s Fire Department’s, the personal impact on firefighters can be significant.
“When something like this happens it can become fairly personal to each individual as to where their pride and commitment was and has been at their past fire department. Having your fire department shut down would be tough for anybody.” Wagner also praised the Baron’s Fire Department members for their service and commitment to their department prior to its closure. “I would like to acknowledge the dedication that the members of the Barons Fire department had, and pride they had for the fire service and caring for the residents in the last number of years.”
“I don’t think it would be an easy step for those members to want to right away jump on another department, however I would be open to discussions if any of the ones that possibly live in or around the Town Of Nobleford would be interested.
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