Fire Prevention Week gives us a chance to reflect on the Regional Fire Service progress and any updates to note. Ponoka County Regional Fire Services provides emergency response to Ponoka County, the Town of Ponoka, the Town of Rimbey and the Summer Village of Parkland Beach out of two fire halls.
Our West District Fire Department in Rimbey and our East District Fire Department in Ponoka oversee response to over 721,000 acres, over 1,400 miles of roads and a population of just under 20,000 residents. Both fire departments each have some 27 volunteer firefighters that participate in certified training programs in addition to bi-weekly fire practices at each fire hall with certified fire instructors.
For the full twelve months of 2019 our East District FD responded to 317 emergency calls and our West District FD responded to 132 emergency calls that included, fires (structure, vehicle, etc.), grass fires, vehicle accidents, public service (RCMP and EMS request, etc.) and alarm calls. For the first eight months of 2020 (January 1 to August 31) our East District FD responded to 210 emergency calls and our West District FD responded to 63 emergency calls.
What is interesting to note is that in 2019, 156 or 35 per cent of the 449 total emergency calls, were for alarms (no fire present) and for the first eight months of 2020 its 79 or 29 per cent of the 273 total emergency calls. What residents may not realize is that we must treat each alarm call as if it were a real emergency call until we can verify otherwise. This means our volunteer firefighters are leaving work or their families to respond to what we think is a potential structure fire that is threatening lives and property only to find out that in many cases, its only cooking incident or the fire alarm system is not being properly maintained (expired batteries, not providing their alarm company updated contact numbers or not answering their phone when the alarm company calls to see if it’s a real fire).
Fire safety is everyone’s responsibility and it starts in the homes and businesses making sure they are doing their part to reduce the number of unnecessary alarm calls that can put an undue burden on our volunteers or take them away from responding to a true fire or emergency.
Let us all work together to make our communities safer and it starts in our home kitchens where we want to “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen” which is the 2020 Fire Prevention Week theme.
Did you know that home cooking fires represent the leading cause of home fires with nearly half (49 per cent) of all home fires involving cooking equipment, unattended cooking is the leading cause of these fires? What a huge difference it would make in reducing home fires and alarm calls if everyone kept a close eye on what they were cooking and never left their cooking unattended.
For more information on this year’s FPW theme please visit www.fpw.org .