Stettler county council heard an update on its various fire departments, including the return of the Donalda battalion, which appears to be almost ready to fight fires. The report was made at the June 14 regular meeting of council.
Manager of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk provided councillors with updates on three County of Stettler battalions, Donalda, Byemoor and Big Valley.
Brysiuk noted councillors had requested that fire department updates be placed on every meeting agenda for the time being.
Brysiuk reported on Donalda first, a fire battalion that had been shuttered some years ago but through a grassroots community effort accommodated by the municipality has been making a comeback.
Brysiuk stated training at the Donalda battalion has been strongly progressing for several weeks, with 14 to 15 firefighters coming out for every training night.
“That’s pretty good attendance,” said Brysiuk.
He noted the county was pretty excited to see that much enthusiasm, although a couple new recruits haven’t been able to make it to training. One of those, though, is a professional firefighter who’s currently up north fighting wildfires.
He reported the Donalda fire hall has had equipment and apparatus delivered and much of it is ready to go. A brush truck, fire engine and water truck are all at the hall he reported.
However, the Donalda tender suffered some damage in an incident, and isn’t usable, apparently even for training purposes. However, the Stettler tender remains in top condition.
In a June 23 email Brysiuk explained what a tender is: “A tender is a specific type of fire truck. It’s like a regular fire engine but with considerably more water storage capacity ( about 3,000 gallons), which is crucial for firefighting in rural areas where you can’t just connect to a hydrant. These tenders also have portable drop tanks that can be deployed quickly, and the tenders have end dumps to fill the tanks incredibly quickly, and allow the tender to go resupply with water while other trucks suck the water from the tank. These trucks are sometimes referred to as ‘tankers.’ We have one in each of our four stations that assist across the county to maintain a reliable supply of water for firefighting.”
Brysiuk reported he’s been told parts to repair the Donalda tender won’t be available until the first quarter of 2024, which he seemed unsatisfied with. Brysiuk stated the County of Stettler will try to find parts sooner than that and is also considering contacting its insurance company over the issue.
He further reported the Donalda firefighters will be sized soon for their grassfire coveralls and some other gear like helmets.
Coun. Paul McKay noted there were some problems with rapid response. He also stated it would be nice to have some practice with a tender because waiting nine months for the Donalda one to be repaired seemed too long, and asked if the Stettler tender was available. Brysiuk responded such a request seemed possible.
Coun. Justin Stevens stated he wanted to point out that just because the Stettler tender is housed in station number one in Stettler doesn’t mean the vehicle is a Town of Stettler apparatus.
During discussion it was noted several Donalda firefighters have Class 1 and 3 driver’s licenses so should have little trouble handling the firefighting vehicles.
When asked when the Donalda department would be able to respond to a grassfire call, Brysiuk responded the department needs some communication equipment plus their coveralls and then they should be ready to go. He predicted perhaps in two to three weeks Donalda should be capable of responding to grassfire calls.
McKay further noted it would be nice to see the Donalda firefighters and equipment in the upcoming Donalda Canada Day parade, and Brysiuk responded that they will in fact be in the parade.
McKay asked if Donalda firefighters would be able to go to Stettler for training, and Reeve Larry Clarke responded that request will be brought up with the Town of Stettler.
Brysiuk noted Donalda, Byemoor and Big Valley battalions have all had various equipment improved and upgraded over the past few weeks.
Councillors unanimously accepted the rural fire department report as information.
By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jun 29, 2023