Ponoka Fire Department busier than ever

Members of Ponoka’s volunteer fire department are looking back at one of the busiest years in a long time.

Members of Ponoka’s volunteer fire department are looking back at one of the busiest years in a long time.

In 2013 the Ponoka Fire Department (PFD) received 217 calls, a record breaking year, said Fire Chief Ted Dillon.

The closest year to that was in 2008 with 216 calls. Dillon said that while the numbers are up, the team’s actual hours on scene were not as high as some years.

Last year the PFD clocked 2,841 hours, third next to 2008 with 3,386 hours and 2009 with 3,116 hours. Vehicle accidents increased to 81 in 2013, up from 50 in 2012.

“I have my own theory on that and it’s not alcohol related,” said Dillon.

He believes motorists are not taking the time for driving breaks, which is causing fatigue. Dillon also suggests that people are leading busy lives and want to get from point A to point B faster without considering road conditions.

It was not only accidents that was on the rise, fires and rubbish/grass fires also increased.

Home and car fires increased to 34 in 2013, up from 32 in 2012, and rubbish/grass fires increased to 46, from 23, a full 100 per cent increase.

When it comes to an emergency, adrenaline is an important factor and some firefighters thrive in different environments.

“We’ve got guys that would rather do extrication,” said Dillon.

Some enjoy the challenge of quelling a grass fire and others take no issue with entering a burning building to save a human life or pet, he added.

Despite the different emergencies, Dillon said Ponoka’s firefighters are trained in every aspect of emergency response.

“Everybody trains for everything,” he said.

Other calls such as alarms with no fire, other agency assists and public services were down.

Public services relate to fuel spills, downed power lines, gas leaks, waterline ruptures and other calls such as rescue operations.

To prepare for every emergency, PFD members practice every other Monday — 1,412 hours — and worked 1,500 training hours in 2013 in addition to their practices.

These training times may be certification for pump operation or water rescue.

“We do everything from tying knots to practice vehicle extrication.”

New rescue truck expected

To help the PFD, a new rescue truck — ordered last year — is expected for delivery in the next few weeks. It will be equipped with a new set of hydraulic rescue equipment such as the Jaws of Life and will replace the old truck.

“It’s overdue. We’re replacing a 1994 one-ton, which is sorely overweight,” said Dillon.

The old truck will still be used to carry lighter equipment to a scene.