County of Stettler volunteers step forward for Donalda Fire Dept.
By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative ReporterHeadlines News fire hall firefighters volunteer
April 21, 2023, Stettler, Alta. – The County of Stettler will move ahead with getting a mothballed fire hall back into operation after staff revealed 22 volunteers have stepped forward to become firefighters. The discussion was held at the April 12 regular meeting of council.
Councillors heard a report from Director of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk regarding the Donalda fire hall, which was mothballed several years ago.
Brysiuk stated staff know the re-opening of the Donalda fire station is a council priority, including getting volunteers back into the hall and getting the hall functioning again.
Brysiuk stated staff have been busy screening firefighter candidates and completed both interviews and fitness tests on 22 candidates and all passed, “…with flying colours.” He added county staff is very excited about the number of volunteers who stepped forward.
The next step, noted Brysiuk, is to proceed with training to get the 22 firefighters ready.
Coun. Ernie Gendre asked for a clarification, that being the County of Stettler recruited 22 firefighters for the Donalda station yet over the last six years recruitment efforts didn’t find, “…a single one.”
Brysiuk responded by noting the Donalda community deserved credit for this phenomenally quick response, as it was the community that came forward to the County of Stettler asking for their fire station to be re-opened.
Brysiuk also reminded councillors of the successful open house that was held in Donalda recently featuring not only those who wanted to volunteer but also people who just wanted to show moral support, which included people from surrounding communities such as Bashaw.
When asked about the status and condition of equipment in the Donalda fire hall, Brysiuk responded it’s felt equipment useful for fighting grass fires would be most useful at this early stage, as full firefighter bunker gear is likely too unwieldy. He said most sizing has been done for the 22 volunteers and that equipment is being acquired.
Reeve Larry Clarke asked if the County of Stettler is proceeding with acquiring gear and putting the Donalda fire station back into operations.
County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy answered, “Hopefully.”
Brysiuk clarified vehicles are also being looked at and it appears at least one fire truck will require an inspection or mechanical work. However, at least one vehicle is ready to go back into service and the brush truck, a fire vehicle used for off-road purposes, is also ready to re-enter service.
Cassidy added that staff need council’s direction on certain aspects of the Donalda fire station, such as how should new firefighters be trained, should the county ask the regional fire service to do it or hire a contractor?
Coun. Justin Stevens asked if an inventory list exists of all the equipment which belongs to the Donalda fire station. He also asked if all of the equipment is still at the hall.
The CAO answered that it appears some equipment remains in Donalda but it can’t be stated right now if everything is there or where it ended up if it was removed.
Brysiuk noted that the County of Stettler requires a full inventory of regional fire department assets which is a vital part of the municipality’s transition to having its own fire department.
He referred to the Town of Stettler’s recent announcement it plans to dissolve the regional agreement between itself and the County of Stettler, and the reeve responded the County of Stettler will form its own fire department.
Brysiuk further noted an entire inventory would be “labourious” but an important move so that the County of Stettler knows what equipment it already owns or doesn’t.
Coun. James Nibourg asked if any of the 22 new volunteers have shown interest in becoming fire chief in Donalda. Brysiuk responded of the 22, two are actually professional firefighters with impressive credentials. However, of those two one declined the leadership role while the other voiced some interest but has a tight work schedule.
Councillors unanimously accepted the Donalda fire hall update as information.
– East Central Alberta Review
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