Bashaw town council wants more information about an off-road firefighting vehicle as the threat of intense drought looms in the summer of 2024. 

The resolutions regarding a wildland fire truck were made at the March 6 regular meeting of council.

In a phone call with Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller March 8, it was noted a request from the Bashaw Fire Department at a previous council meeting was discussed again at the most recent council meeting. 

“Twenty-twenty four is starting out as a drought-concerning year,” stated the CAO in her report to council. “In preparation for possible fire the chief had requested consideration for purchasing a crew cab truck.

“It would be a one ton crew cab, they are obtaining pricing. It would have a water tank on the back and be maneuverable through pastures, etc.” 

As discussed at the previous meeting, finding a safe place to store the truck has been a challenge. Wildland fire trucks, also called bush buggies, are common and often used in rural areas where urban-style fire trucks have trouble navigating.

Fuller stated that the Public Works department determined it may have room in a compound near their main building; the CAO noted a safe spot for the truck would also have to be accessible 24 hours a day by the firefighters when they need the vehicle.

Fuller stated that councillors also agreed they would like the fire department to write a full request for proposal, essentially a formal request for the truck with detailed information such as type and cost of truck with equipment.

The CAO noted this is needed because the Town of Bashaw plans to start looking at how to pay for the truck; it’s possible there may be some funds in a motor vehicle reserve that’s part of the regional fire agreement. Fuller stated the account is managed by Camrose County.

She confirmed councillors passed two resolutions, the first that a letter be sent to Camrose County clarifying whether the motor vehicle reserve funds could be used to buy a wildland fire unit and secondly to ask the fire department for a formal proposal for purchasing the truck.

Sewer rates

Fuller described a detailed conversation councillors had regarding municipal sewer rates and the fact the official auditor discovered the Town of Bashaw had not been billing for this service properly.

Fuller clarified that the problem stemmed from a part of the policy that laid out a certain flat rate which became a higher rate under certain circumstances; apparently, the higher rate was not applied until recently.

The CAO stated Coun. Cindy Orom received calls from members of the public who’d received higher sewer bills. The CAO stated the Town of Bashaw included an explanation about this higher billing on the backs of February utility bills.

Councillors passed a resolution to have town staff evaluate the higher charges to determine if such charges needed to be adjusted. Also, town staff were directed to share information about the sewer rate issue with the public.

Pesky water leaks

The Town of Bashaw appears to have its pesky water leak problem under control. For years the Town of Bashaw was aware by examining usage, billing and other factors that a substantial amount of water was being lost likely through a undetected leak. 

The leak turned out to be frustratingly difficult to locate.

The town recently hired a company called EnviroTrace to find any leaks, which they proceeded to do. The CAO presented councillors with the most recent report from EnviroTrace, which noted they’d investigated an area on 51 Street between 52 and 53 Ave. The company stated certain tests were inconclusive but all other areas in Bashaw appear to be water tight.

As far as 51 Street the company recommended checking some valves and fire hydrants. 

Councillors accepted the report as information.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 14, 2024 at 10:43

This item reprinted with permission from   East Central Alberta Review   Coronation, Alberta

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