Alberta fire departments will see more money coming their way for emergency responses.
“The announcement of increased funding for emergency response by fire departments responding to emergency situations on provincial highways is good news for every municipality and fire department in Alberta,” says Al Schram, Edson Fire Chief and vice-president of the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association (AFCA).
Schram commented on the announcement made by Transportation Minister Wayne Drysdale at the spring meeting of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties recently.
Ponoka Fire Chief Ted Dillon said he wass pleased with the increase. Running the rescue truck can be expensive and purchasing equipment costly; a set of Jaws of Life costs approximately $50,000 he said.
“It will cover the costs of doing business,” added Dillon.
He said their calls have also increased over the last 15 years and this will help the high costs related to emergency rescue.
Fire departments are often the first responders at motor vehicle accidents on primary and secondary highways. Costs are recovered through claims on driver’s insurance but often that is unsuccessful and the bill is sent to Alberta Transportation.
“It has been about 15 years since fees were adjusted and they were just not covering actual costs. Municipalities and their taxpayers were picking up the shortfall,” adds Schram.
Drysdale announced that fees for large equipment (pumper trucks and rescue vans) would be increased from $400 to $600 per hour and that fees would now be adjusted annually to reflect increasing costs of operation. Other fees would also be adjusted.
“Perhaps equally important is a change to make the payment process easier and uniform throughout the province,” says Bill Purdy, AFCA executive director. “We achieved these changes by working closely and cooperatively with Alberta Transportation. They were quick to recognize the problem and were receptive to bringing about a change. We thank them for their efforts.”
“Both the AAMDC and AUMA (Alberta Urban Municipalities Association) strongly supported the AFCA and will also be happy to see a positive result for this issue.”
The AFCA represents 450 rural and urban fire chiefs throughout Alberta. They represent approximately 13,500 firefighters—10,000 of which are volunteers—all dedicated to minimizing fire and safety hazards for Albertans. Check www.afca.ab.ca for more details.