It didn’t take long for the region’s newest fire department to hire its first fire chief.
Dale Morrow, a lifelong Ponoka resident and former member of the Ponoka Fire Department, was announced last week by Ponoka County Regional Fire Services as the first-ever fire chief for the county’s new East County Fire Department. Morrow, who put in 30 years with the local fire department – the last 17 of those as senior deputy chief – before leaving last year, will take control of the operational side of the department.
“I would have loved to have done this all along,” he said in an interview last week.
“To work full-time as a chief, I just didn’t think this kind of opportunity would come along, so I jumped at it. It was something I just couldn’t pass up.
While he doesn’t officially take his post until May 1, Morrow is hoping to get started sooner depending on when he can divest himself from the business interests he is currently involved in. However, he and the 26 members that have signed on with East County have been getting in some training already in preparation for the service to take over fire protection in the county in less than three months.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m a hands-on, get dirty kind of guy and my biggest interest is the personnel,” he stated.
“I have a great group and if you add up the years of the experienced guys, it works out to about 210 years so with the six rookies we have it will definitely be manageable. It’s a privilege to have worked with many of these guys previously and I look forward to working with them again.”
Morrow added that some of the members have been away from the fire service for a brief time – the longest being about 18 months – he expects the training schedule, combined with their lengthy experience, will bring everyone up to speed rather quickly and before they begin responding to calls on May 1.
“We’ve done some training – everyone was just recently certified in CPR – and have some other training items and events ongoing,” he said, “But with our schedule, if someone misses one week they will have the opportunity to catch up and do that same training as West County (Rimbey) is running the same training, just on a different week.”
As for the burning question that’s no doubt in a lot of people’s minds, Morrow explained that he sees no problem – and is even willing and eager about it – with him and his department being able to work with the Town of Ponoka Fire Department in a mutual aid situation. He stated that once everyone is on a scene, then everyone is part of the same firefighting brotherhood and has no doubt that they will all be able to work together to get the job done.