The local fire department went into 2020 with a solid plan, and then everything changed.
Fire Chief Shawn Polley says "We had a great plan starting in 2020, we had a very busy year with competency based training. We were actually rebuilding our entire technical rescue team."
"Unfortunately, with COVID, it shifted everything and pushed us back quite a few months, because we had to refocus and ensure that our staff were well prepared, they were well looked after here, to make sure their safety is paramount, and then also provide a different type of response for our community."
Polley says the pandemic forced them to introduce new safety protocol very quickly.
"When they came back to the station, going through a decontamination process back in April and May we really didn't have a lot of information on COVID-19, we were relying on the province and the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, and really looked at how could you take those large departments and scale it down and build something more community centric."
Last month, Polley was appointed to the position of Fire Chief. He replaces Dave Humphrey who recently retired.
There were other changes and additions for the department locally as well.
Polley says "We built this great confidence maze for our self-contained breathing apparatus training program. So we used an upcycled cold storage garage down by the Jack Tennant Memorial Bridge. It's been well received by the members."
Constant cleaning and sanitizing has become a routine and Polley is hoping they can start having visitors back into the hall in 2021.
"The cleaning and disinfection, the station has never smelled better, I would certainly say that. The members do a very admirable job. What we're hoping for is that we can get back to providing the in-station tours. That's one that we have an enormous amount of traction with and well over 1000 school aged children in 2019 came to visit us here, and received fire safety messaging."
They do offer virtual tours of the fire hall currently.
There will be some changes in the new year as well.
"A big project that we're also working on is we're transitioning from our Town of Cochrane owned legacy radio system onto the Alberta first responders radio communication system that's owned by the province so that's quite a significant change for us from a legacy system to an external provider."