In 2022, Cochrane Fire Services’ call volume returned to 2017 and 2018 numbers post-pandemic.
Fire Chief Shawn Polley projects that they will respond to 1200 events this year. That will be significantly more this year as calls dipped down in 2019 and 2020 to about 900. The number one call volume is in support of AHS and EMS.
Fire Services responded to one of its biggest structure fires early in the year when the alarm sounded for a fire at the Ramada Hotel on February 6, 2022. Polley says, “That was certainly our biggest event to date. The Fireside fire was very large back in 2018 but the Ramada event was certainly challenging for fire crews this year.”
Polley shares the excitement of the department with a major announcement in 2022, “This year Council approved a fire engine. So, we've actually placed the order with the vendor. It's a local dealer out of Red Deer named Rocky Mountain Phoenix and they've been in the fire truck business for a long time. They support a brand called Rosenbauer, so that is a brand that we are quite used to having here in this facility.” The truck will be built in the U.S. as they were unable to get a Canadian vendor to build it and that process will probably start in the second week of January. Polley says they are hopeful that the new truck will be delivered by late 2024 or early 2025. Chief Polley says, “It takes quite a while to build an engine about 525 days from the day that you sign at the factory for the pre-build. So, that will be a very welcome addition to our fleet.” The new truck will be a replacement for a 20-year-old fire engine that has 140,000 kilometres and counting on it.
The department struck a committee of firefighters led by Deputy Chief Wallace who had a good look around at the options for the new engine. Polley says the committee consisted of, “Mechanics to experts in project management to, of course, the regular firefighters and the captains who are all subject matter experts, so among them they chose pretty much the same shape, height, length, width. We actually took some of the extra options off and made it a little bit more grassroots or baseline in exchange for having a much larger engine. Of course, we climb out of the valley bottom, right in the central downtown, so we wanted to make sure we could get up the hills much quicker.”
More exciting news for the department is that a ten-year fire master plan has been approved by the town council and has just kicked off a couple of weeks ago. It will see fire services going out into the community to engage with citizens to weigh in on the future of Cochrane Fire Services. The process will probably take the first five months of 2023 with a final presentation to the council in July 2023. 3. Polley says, “Looking at some of the really challenging things we have. We have lots of growth, which is great for any community to have and looking at staffing policies, procedures, and fire station locations. Really looking forward into the future to help shape some of the future decisions we need to make over the next ten years here at the department.” The process will include community comparators which ensure that local services are aware of what is being done in other areas and keep current.
Residents can also count on Cochrane Fire Services to continue to be strong community events supporters as they were this year with the Veteran and Activettes food banks.
In 2022, Cochrane Fire Services delivered a new incident management database system. Polley says, “So, that's going to help drive making good decisions based on data trying to really ground our decisions in science or information or data.”
In 2023, there will be lots of fire inspections coming up Polley says, “We have great compliance with all our local businesses. We will be out there knocking on doors, our two fire inspectors to keep businesses safe.”
One final point that Chief Polley wishes to convey is the work of the peer support team and “The fabulous work they do to make sure that we have a healthy and happy and resilient group of firefighters.”