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County looking for updated rural firefighter recruitment and retention strategy

County of Grande Prairie Council has asked officials with the county’s regional fire service to create an internal committee of stakeholders to help come up with a list of ideas to retain and recruit firefighters in the three rural stations in Bezanson, La Glace and Teepee Creek.

Reeve Leanne Beaupre says those in the fire service do a great job in keeping active and volunteer firefighters in the county, but she hopes rural stations can benefit from a concrete strategy.

“We wanted to make sure we were recognizing not only the efforts they were doing on behalf of their communities, but also receive a high amount of training and the number of opportunities they could have out there serving in the rural area.”

Beaupre says in the past, the attrition rate for volunteer firefighters has been fairly high but believes a positive step forward from fire administration could be something as simple as getting to know the companies which allow the volunteers to serve.

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“They need to go out and talk to the fire volunteers that we presently have, find out who they’re employed through and go back to them and thank them for releasing them to respond,” she says.

“A lot of the time they’ll be at work and have to respond to a fire call or to an emergency, so I think recognizing it’s bigger than just the firefighting community, it’s the community as a whole that responds to the emergency service through the fire department.”

Council also approved an annual stipend of $15,000, for retention and recruitment activities for each of the three stations. In the past, funding decisions were based on the number of emergency responses dealt with on an annual basis.

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