By Stan Ashbee
Volunteer fire departments are always looking for new people, says Regional Fire Chief Nathan Cote, from the M.D. of Taber Regional Fire Services.
As it stands right now, Cote noted, the department has about 98 members throughout the M.D. “That includes six stations, so 98 volunteers spread out across those. And, all of them are looking for members. We always keep our ears open to anyone that would like to join.”
Some of the areas of focus for more recruits, according to Cote, is the Hays station, as well as the Barnwell station. “Those two stations are a little low in numbers and are really looking to do some recruitment.”
Over the course of the 2020 year, the department responded to about 261 incidents throughout the M.D. This year, call volume is close to the 180 mark, thus far in 2021.
Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has been interesting, according to the department.
“The incidents still happen, even though we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Somehow, we have to work with the public and work with our members and try to protect our members, as best we can.
A lot of extra cleaning happened too. “A lot of extra personal protective gear. Masks, gloves, safety glasses, face shields — different things like that we would use to protect our members, as well as the extra cleaning around the hall. It’s trying to keep everyone spaced out and social distanced while we try to do some hands-on training, as we went through things,” Cote said.
“At times, we even had to go back to online training — virtual-style training, where we couldn’t do the hands-on,” added Cote.
It’s been a trying year, said Cote. “It definitely takes its toll.” But, the department did very well going through the pandemic and as it continues. “I’m pretty happy with how they are doing, for sure.”
This past year, there were grass fires but motor vehicle collisions were down until Alberta opened up for summer, according to Deputy Regional Chief Joe Bruyere. “With being more closed in now, I would say it would return back to the pandemic state. With less traffic and so on.”
Grass fires still happened, regardless of an ongoing pandemic. “At this point, we’re looking at grass fires are still our biggest incidents.”
Cote said M.D. residents should try to follow restrictions being put forth by Alberta Health Services and the province. “Try to maintain those and follow those things to hopefully get us through this pandemic, as quick as we can. Please be as patient, as you can and think of everyone as a whole, rather than ourselves. We all have to make some sacrifices due to those restrictions.”
Outside of the pandemic, Cote pointed out, it’s awfully dry out in the M.D. “We’ve had a long, dry summer with not a lot of moisture coming in the areas. There were a lot of fire bans on. As the fall came, we got a little bit of moisture — which certainly has helped, but it’s still very dry out there.”
So remember a little bit of fire safety when you’re out and about, Cote said. “As your doing some camping or even some clean-up on your farms and acreages, please make sure you be a little bit fire safe while you do it.”