The road to get there was rough, but the path to date for the Ponoka County Regional Fire Service has gone fairly well.
Back on April 26, the service’s new East District Fire Department began responding to emergencies and, as of Aug. 7 — a span of 104 days — they have responded to 59 calls.
Regional Fire Chief Dennis Jones explained 14 of those were for structure or vehicle fires, 21 responses to grass fires and 17 to motor vehicle collisions with the other seven including a variety of assistance to other agencies, gas leaks and alarm calls.
“Of those (59) calls, about 19 of those were billable for about $35,000,” Jones stated.
Meanwhile, the West District Fire Department (formerly known as Rimbey) billed out close to $24,000 for responses, which for the first six months of the year has been a total of 64 calls with a wide range from structure and vehicle fires to alarm calls and collisions.
Both departments are also well into a very busy training schedule, having already completed courses in vehicle extrication and wildland fires plus two teams of three personnel have finished their training to provide Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) to other departments following a serious incident they were involved with.
However, Jones added the busiest time is coming this fall when the departments will be taking on courses including fire safety, hazardous materials and the Level One 1001 NFPA certification.
“We will be starting the 1001 training after Thanksgiving and hope to have everyone ready for the written exam and live fire practical testing by the middle of March,” he said.
“We are also going to be hosting a number of other departments for a course regarding railway safety and derailments involving tanker cars carrying dangerous or hazardous materials.”
The course will be put on by Transcare and will take place at the rail siding off of 50th Street in Ponoka on Wednesday, Aug. 31 and Thursday, Sept. 1. In addition, the department has plans to put on a course in emergency management operations as well as on the incident command system for its members.
“There has been a lot of training and a lot that is planned for the next few months, so it’s an exciting time,” Jones said.
One other interesting item that Ponoka County’s fire service is hoping can come to fruition is being able to turn an old 18-foot cargo trailer, which is currently part of the items in storage at the West District department, into a unit for rehabilitation, decontamination and a mobile incident command post.
“I’ve seen some places that have units such as this and, if we can get it done, not only would it be a great thing for our department, but we would certainly make it available to whoever needed it,” he added.
Both departments have also been busy out in their own communities, putting time in assisting at various community events and barbecues along with other functions, with Jones stating the plan is to continue to be a part of the communities they serve as much as they can.
A correction to the story was made Wednesday, Aug. 17:
In a story that ran on page 15 in the August 10 edition of the Ponoka News, it was stated that the Ponoka Airport is protectedby the Town of Ponoka Fire Department even though the land lies outside the town’s municipal boundaries. However, thePonoka County East District Fire Department has since stated they are responsible for responding to calls at the airport. ThePonoka News regrets any confusion this may have caused.