False alarms are rising at an alarming rate in the western part of Big Lakes County.
At its regular meeting April 24, council was updated about fire services covered by the High Prairie Fire Department.
Fire chief Trevor Cisaroski presented his 2022 year-end report to county council.
“Monitored alarms have remained consistent for the town, but the number in the county has increased probably because more places are getting alarms installed,” Cisaroski said.
He did not have numbers, however.
“I will monitor the county alarm calls,” Cisaroski added.
He noted the High Prairie fire department responds to an average of 50 false alarms a year in High Prairie.
False alarms in Big Lakes and High Prairie have been a concern for local fire chiefs for several years.
Firefighters responded to more structure fires in 2022 than in 2021.
“Revenue was up due to large structure fires,” Cisaroski said.
He noted that a major fire at Tolko west of High Prairie May 20 involved a lot of firefighters and equipment on scene for several hours.
Firefighters responded to fewer calls to motor vehicle collisions last year.
“MVC response and revenues were down due to less activity,” he said.
“Maybe people are driving safer and that’s a good thing.”
Calls to assist Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for Alberta Health Services have increased, he reported.
“We will be monitoring this with AHS,” Cisaroski said.
Overall, firefighters responded to more calls last year.
“There seems to be an increase in general calls, anything from electrical calls to co-calls, for both the town and the county,” Cisaroski said.
Firefighters logged 1,040 firefighter hours for response in the county in 2022 and 362 in the town.
He said the number of firefighter hours in the county has been an average of 1,000 firefighter hours the past five years.
Cisaroski noted that average response times in 2022 were 19 minutes in the county from initial page call to crews and equipment on scene and six-and-a-half minutes in the town.
Reporting to Big Lakes council twice a year, Cisaroski proposes to adjust his schedule to report in February and August.
He said it will allow for an accurate year-end report in February and pre-budget report in August.
However, council did not make make a formal decision at the meeting.
by Richard Froese
May 7, 2023