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County firefighters urging residents to call 9-1-1 in emergencies

Following a string of recent structure fires in the County of Grande Prairie, regional fire services are urging residents to call 911 at the first hint of a problem. The volunteer fire department in Wembley put out a statement Wednesday suggesting that several people called them directly to let them know of a problem, rather than calling dispatch directly.

County of Grande Prairie Fire Chief Dan Verdun says it’s unfortunately nothing new but creating awareness could make a huge difference.

“It’s certainly something I’ve experienced over my 25-year career. It’s something we tend to have to reiterate every once in a while. There is dramatic importance in making a very timely call and dispatching responders so they can come to help you with your emergency.”

Verdun says the majority of County fire services are either supplemented or entirely staffed by volunteers. That means skipping the proper channels could make a dangerous situation for someone waiting for help even worse.

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“We are really good at response and have really good we call shoot times, and you need to consider that. If you delay the initial call, then you’re just expanding or increasing that delay in getting them there.”

Verdun adds while the priority of every call differs, the time crews have between getting a fire under control quickly and allowing it to spread is razor thin and the quicker they can get out there the better.

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