Cochrane Fire Services is working on a report to town council demonstrating how it has kept up with the community’s continued, unprecedented growth.
The annual report expected to be presented in March will include 2016 data such as response times, as well as long-term planning based on forecasted growth.
Whether that will include another firehall is yet to be seen.
“It’s not in our 10-year financial plan but there are other ways to do that, ” said Suzanne Gaida, senior manager of community services for the town, adding that additional fire departments would be determined by growth.
Given the town’s north and south growth points, these areas are identified as potential future sites for additional fire halls or stations – Sunset Ridge as the northern location and one of the communities of Riversong/Fireside/Southbow as a southern site.
According to Fire Chief David Humphrey, “Our call volume is up but that’s not an anomaly and is part and parcel to growth. ”
He said the department is “still under the eight minute response time 90 per cent of the time ” but will be employing a call modeling application being used by the City of Calgary.
Humphrey said call modeling is crucial to the development of a long-term fire services growth plan for Cochrane Fire Services.
The Cochrane department has 16 full-time members, two fire inspection prevention officers and 32 part-time officers.
The town is currently recruiting a deputy fire chief, which Gaida said would allow Humphrey to focus more on long-term planning for the department.
Rocky View Fire Services & Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES)
According to County Fire Chief Randy Smith, “Call volume over the past three years has leveled out, so we’re not seeing a major impact due to development at this time. ”
Smith added that structure fires across Canada are on the decline and medical and auto accidents are on the rise.
The county has experienced an increase in services since 2014, with the addition of the Bearspaw Fire Hall in 2014, which is manned 24/7 and has two trucks.
Bearspaw and Balzac experienced an increased capacity due to two new volunteer fire brigades in 2015.
Mutual aid agreements with Calgary signed in 2016 and a reciprocal automatic response agreement with Cochrane in 2015 has “increased capacity ” in all communities.
Smith confirmed that a mutual aid response agreement with Tsuu T’ina has recently been completed and will improve fire response.
The RMES – with an average chute time of 6:42 minutes and response time from dispatch to on scene of 15:23 minutes into Bragg Creek – is an active volunteer service with successful membership maintenance.
The RMES primarily response areas include the communities of Redwood Meadows and Bragg Creek. They also assist the county as backup to Elbow Valley and Springbank.
Cochrane Fire Services assists the County as backup, including the area of Springbank.
According to Fire Chief Smith, Elbow Valley firehall responded to 199 events in 2016 with an average response time of 10:19 minutes and a total dollar loss of $14,500.
Springbank firehall responded to 390 events in 2016 with an average response time of 11:51 minutes and a total dollar loss of nearly $1.5 million.
Bearspaw firehall responded to 354 events last year, with an average response time of 13:40 minutes and a total dollar loss in excess of $4.56 million.