Local fire chiefs welcome new training centre
By: By Megan Sarrazin
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 05, 2012 06:00 am
A proposed joint training facility in Morinville’s east end means local fire departments won’t have to send members out of the area to strengthen their skills.
The proposed East Boundary Road facility would be constructed in four phases and will be used to train for small-fire scenarios, which account for the bulk of the departments’ calls.
“We’re always excited about working directly with the City of St. Albert – we do on many, many calls – but we’re in the game together and you never know when we’re all on scene together,” said Morinville fire chief Ron Cust.
Morinville council unanimously approved the request last week for the department to enter into a partnership with St. Albert for joint use, maintenance and repair of the facility.
Cust said the proposal comes after several years of training at facilities in the greater Edmonton area, including Bon Accord, Edmonton, Nisku and the Canadian Forces base.
The St. Albert fire department also travels outside the immediate area for training, which is not ideal, said Fire Chief Ray Richards.
“We do not have any areas we can do small-fire training and we need to do, on a regular basis, we need to do small or smoke-type fire scenarios,” he said.
It has been two to three years since the St. Albert department has performed small-fire scenarios nearby due to close proximity to homes and businesses as well as access to fire hydrants.
“We have to go to neighbour sites and take units out of the city,” Richards said. “We haven’t had one in the city for many, many years and it hampers us because we can’t have the frequent small-fire scenarios, simulated rescues and even for fire investigation training.”
Deputy mayor David Pattison said the partnership will ensure local firefighters get the tools they need to perform well when a real call comes in.
“It’s really important that we, especially when you’ve got volunteer fire departments, that we provide space for the chief and his men and women to be trained,” he said.
Phase one is set to be completed Sept. 11, pending Morinville council’s approval of a rezoning request for the water reservoir site, the proposed home to the centre.
If the land use bylaw redistricting amendment is accepted, the departments can move ahead with phase two, which involves preparing the site with a gravel or asphalt base, putting up a fence, moving in a smoke house and burn building and designating an area for vehicle extrication.
The facility will be designed as a temporary site that can be relocated, if need be.
Cust said Morinville’s population growth puts more demand on the department and warrants a training centre within the town’s boundaries. He said the location is far enough from homes and commercial buildings and will not create an eyesore.
He said no additional funds are required in this budget year, adding the St. Albert department has grant money available while the Morinville department has funds from fundraising campaigns.
The cost for the first two phases is pegged at $25,000 – a cost to be shared equally by the Morinville and St. Albert departments.
Stage three and four involve acquiring additional training props as well as undergoing evaluation for the temporary facility.
Pattison said the facility requires an additional fire hydrant, which would also be used to service areas in town. The cost is estimated at $25,000.