If it weren’t for the Clairmont fire hall, calls for service from the County of Grande Prairie Regional Fire Service may have been significantly lower last year. That station saw an increase of 35 calls in 2019 for a total of 864 total responses, while others in the region saw theirs drop. Beaverlodge, Wembley, and Hythe stations combined for a total of 76 fewer calls in 2019 than in 2018.
“We saw our regional partners down a little bit this year, but we saw the county-run stations up a little bit, so it kind of equalized,” says Fire Chief Dan Verdun.
County of Grande Prairie fire crews took part in 1,891 calls for service in the 2019 year, which is only three more than the year before. That goes against the recent trend of large jumps, as calls for service from the Regional Fire Service have jumped by around 30 per cent between 2015 and 2018.
Medical co-response was far and away responsible for the most calls in the year with 905, or around 48 per cent of all, calls. Verdun says one statistic that caught his attention is the response to 130 grass or bush fire calls.
“Partly due to the fact we didn’t really experience a wildland fire land season,” he says. “[It] was also somewhat beneficial because it allowed us to work on the deployment to help our neighbours that were struggling a little bit with that same issue,” he says.
As part of the High Level area wildfire response, Chief Verdun says County personnel and equipment remained in the region for 66 days, which is the longest sustained deployment in its 10 year history. He adds 2020 has already put forward its fair share of challenges, adding the COVID-19 pandemic creates even more layers of concern for fire crews.
“We hope that everyone continues to take it very seriously, and practice social distancing… not only made themselves safer but it always helps our responders do their job as well.”