Chief of Strathmore’s local fire department, David Sturgeon, reflected on the past year as 2022 drew to a close.
He explained the fire department introduced a number of new things to their operations which aimed, and largely succeeded at improving their services.
“We went to a paperless inspection program, so we are able to do everything online, and we are able to send those results to business owners right away. It has been really nice for them to have accurate feedback on inspections,” he said. “We implemented a pre-planning software, so … (our) crews go teach businesses and they go through a site, see where the hazards are and get familiar with the sites and the businesses, and any high hazard areas in town.”
According to Sturgeon, the detachment’s training program has also been revisited and now abides by a national standard, to which local personnel are rigorously trained in order to meet or exceed.
He added fire services have also been making active efforts to visit schools to speak with local youth, and meeting with seniors to do talks with them.
Regarding service expansion, the detachment has partnered with Wheatland County’s, as well as the departments of smaller orbiting municipalities in order to collaborate on emergency capacity and planning.
Currently, the detachment operates with 45 trained firefighters, being a mix of full-time career, as well as volunteers.
“We transitioned from a solely volunteer service to a composite service where we have full-time and volunteer crews. We are really just trying to make sure that we are always ready and available to respond in a timely manner,” said Sturgeon. “The feedback this year from the public is our response has been really good. We have been quick out the door and we, that I can remember, had four really good saves where we basically got to the fire earlier and were able to extinguish it without completely destroying the homes.”
Sturgeon remarked the year has not been without its challenges, particularly in regards to putting a larger focus on internal training for the detachment’s members.
He estimated the number of responses from the fire department went up between 10 and 15 per cent from the previous year. Medical responses were up by an estimated 20 per cent.
Visibility, public presence and education also being among the fire department’s priorities, the team has also been conducting youth talks throughout the year to engage with the potential next generation of firefighters.
Sturgeon also made a point to thank the local community for their support and cooperation. He wished to encourage anyone, if they have questions or concerns, not hesitate to reach out and get in touch with the detachment.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times