MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY – Olds fire chief Justin Andrew has presented and discussed details for the new Town of Olds fire services master plan with Mountain View County council.
The review came during the recent regularly scheduled council meeting, held by teleconference.
The master plan is a comprehensive evaluation of the department’s current operations and service delivery. It includes numerous recommendations and will be used to create a strategic framework for the delivery of fire protection services over the next 10 years.
The department serves Olds as well as portions of Mountain View County.
The consultants who prepared the plan – Dillon Consulting Limited – looked at factors such as administration and department structure, emergency management program, fire prevention and public education, existing and future emergency response, statistical trends and historical performance, as well as apparatus and equipment.
Andrews went over various parts of the plan, including where the document outlines three pillars of a defence strategy: public education and prevention; fire safety standards and enforcement; emergency response.
“Public education and prevention activities are one of the biggest factors in reducing costs for the emergency response side,” he said. “When all else fails and the fire trucks roll out the door, if we can spend a small amount of money to educate the public and prevent fires, that will give us the largest long term financial benefits and life safety benefits.”
Fire safety standards and enforcement includes fire inspections and code enforcements, he said.
“The one thing that was universal in this master plan was that both the Town of Olds and Mountain View County have prioritized the need for the fire safety standards and enforcement through the dedicated hiring of full-time fire inspections and/or building inspectors, which they (the consultants who prepared the plan) have stated clearly is not the norm across Canada. That is a good thing to hear.”
The plan makes a number of recommendations to enhance and improve service going forward, including the following:
• That priority be given to updating and sustaining department standard operating guidelines and standard operating procedures to reflect current industry best practices and applicable legislation.
• That consideration be given to developing and implementing a ‘pilot project’ for facilitating targeted fire safety programs to children aged 10 to 12.
• That consideration be given to developing and implementing a targeted fire safety program for seniors (65 and over) within the community.
• That consideration be given to enhancing the current home fire safety program.
• That the requirements for annual live fire training to be included within the proposed comprehensive annual training program and department standard operating guidelines.
• That consideration be given to creating a major apparatus reserve capacity, including a minimum of one service ready pumper or pump/tender.
• That further consideration be given to developing an ongoing emergency planning training strategy for members of council and staff.
Council accepted Andrew's presentation and the master plan as information.