Elk Point Fire Department starting fresh

New Chief and Deputy Chief set priorities

Newly elected Fire Chief, Peter Hewitt, and Deputy Chief, Kent Bernard, were introduced at the Elk Point Town Council meeting on Jan. 28.

Hewitt’s first request was for Council to extend the Fire Board executive term from one year to three years.

In a recorded vote, council approved the request, pending approval by the Fire Board.

Hewitt and Bernard have set seven strategic priorities aimed at increasing professionalism and efficiency, and feel that a minimum three-year term is needed to “allow sufficient time to fulfill our carefully considered objectives for the future of the Elk Point Fire Department.”

The duo’s first priority is to build relationships and partnerships with the town, County of St. Paul, RCMP, Reserves, EMS/STARS, and the general community.

Their second priority is to increase the levels of training held by members, as well as to improve driver competency and update drivers’ abstracts and criminal background checks.

Upgrading apparatus is their third priority.

A new Rapid Attack vehicle is on their wish list, they say. The current vehicle is passed replacement as of a year ago and will be converted to a mobile command unit once a new vehicle has been purchased.

A review of the financial situation of the board is the fourth priority to plan for responsible spending.

For example, payments are currently being made on an alarm system that is not providing adequate service. That and a number of other inefficiencies are to be addressed.

Their fifth priority is to improve the public image of the fire department.

They will look at removing all alcohol from the premises to rebuild citizens’ confidence in the professionalism of the emergency responders.

Implementing uniform and attitude requirements both on-and-off duty is another path to achieving public confidence.

Updating and maintaining the fire hall, and creating a sense of belonging and teamwork are the final two priorities for Hewitt and Bernard.

Elk Point’s Deputy Mayor, Debra McQuinn, who is chair of the Fire Board, congratulated the men on their goal-setting, saying, “This is a positive step forward, something that I’ve been looking for, for years.”