The County of Vermilion River (CVR) recorded a total of 3,700.25 volunteer hours by members of Fire and Protective Services last year.
Data from 2019 shows that the CVR made 518 fire department responses, 365 calls were to rural addresses and 152 were located in towns or villages.
Thirty-five per cent of those calls were fire-related, while a quarter were for motor vehicle collisions and another 24 per cent were for medical response.
“We’ve been seeing a steady increase in the number of our calls. In 20 years, they have more than doubled,” said CVR Fire Chief, Orest Popil.
Ten per cent were for other (gas leak or odour, citizen assist or service call, electrical hazard, fuel spill, as well as extrication or entrapment), and six per cent were false alarms.
As far as training goes, volunteers are obligated to meet safety regulations before participating in active duty.
The CVR allows every firefighter the opportunity to train to North American standards for professional firefighters, which are NFPA 1001 Levels 1 and 2.
About half of approximately 160 volunteer firefighters in the CVR are trained to that status, and last year seven members participated in those courses.
“Our training is fairly diverse in this county and a number of our firefighters have been picked up for full time employment by the Department of National Defence as well as the City of Edmonton,” said Popil.
“We are fortunate to have eight fire departments within our county, and the volunteers know their area and know the people so response times are quicker.
“It’s very important for small communities to have these departments because anybody that lives within 10 minutes of a department can save money on their insurance. The equipment that is in the fire hall and the training of the department members can also help with insurance coverage,” he said.
The CVR is expecting a new tanker truck for the Vermilion Fire Department to arrive in August.
The new truck was purchased from Fort Garry Industries in Manitoba, and the existing truck (presently in Vermilion) will be transferred to Blackfoot Fire Hall.
According to Popil, Vermilion is one of the county’s larger departments and has a larger land area to look after.
With Highway 16 being fairly busy, Vermilion is recognized as one of the county’s most active departments and their trucks get used more than the ones in more remote departments.
There is still life left in the existing truck and they will continue to utilize it at one of their smaller departments.
In addition, a specially designed aerial truck purchased by the Town of Vermilion is also expected to arrive later this fall.