The Wembley Fire Department has set a new record. It responded to a record 242 calls this past year. Captain Tyrel Johnson credits the call increase to development in the surrounding area.

“We’ve seen that increase over the last two years with the development of the Pipestone area, gas plants and stuff coming online. That it’s definitely affected the number of times we’ve been called out and that’s just mostly due to an increase in traffic and large truck traffic that we’re seeing out there.”

Half of the calls received were medical related. Johnson says they saw a slight increase in motor vehicle collisions as well. 2018 was also a year of firsts for the 25 person team. In the fall, Johnson says the department began training a six-person team in both water rescue and swift water rescue.

“After some discussions with industry and stuff specific to some of the water moving and access to some of the dugouts and stuff that are being accessed in our area right now for use of water for drilling, there was a request from industry that we rig up for water rescue.”

In order to continue that training, the department is hoping to purchase a boat in the spring. Looking ahead to 2019, Johnson says the department plans to focus on recruiting and training new members.

The neighbouring department in Beaverlodge answered 260 calls for service in 2018.