Concerns about the impact on Maple Creek of a new fire service minimum standards guide have been allayed.
There were worries that the guidelines could mean a significant expense in upgrading equipment and training.
However, Blaine Becker, Maple Creek’s fire chief, did not believe the implications for the town’s volunteer fire department would be big.
“The long and short of it is this: we might have to do a couple or three more practices a year, nothing real big,” he said last Wednesday.
“It’s great that we are already where we need to be.
“We are doing most of the stuff that they expect. I think it’s great they have a minimum standard of training that they want.”
This month, the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) released the Fire Service Minimum Standards Guide.
It was created by the SPSA in consultation with the Saskatchewan Association of Fire Chiefs, the Saskatchewan Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, and the Provincial Training Standards Committee, with a focus on making firefighting safer in Saskatchewan by developing a written set of minimum standards for three levels of service, based on training and equipment capabilities.
The new guidelines are aimed at helping departments and associations ensure they continue to respond to fire events based on their communities’ specific needs.
Engagement between municipal leaders and fire chiefs is considered critical for the program.
The first phase includes a 16-month assessment and declaration period; this will require coordination between municipal elected officials and their fire service to determine the appropriate service level for their community. Service level options are: defensive; offensive; and full operations.
Wildfire and grassland firefighting is deemed an additional service level option that can stand alone or be combined with any of these three firefighting service levels.
The issue of fire service minimum standards was aired at the 2022 conference of the Saskatchewan Association of Fire Chiefs on May 5, 6 and 7.
The event in Yorkton was held amid concern that Maple Creek could be hit hard by the new standards. Worries were voiced at Town Council that equipment might not be up to code, leading to a significant outlay of money.
It was reported that firefighters were upset and that decisions were being made with cities in mind, not communities in rural Saskatchewan.
However, the picture is much clearer now, and more positive for Maple Creek.
Becker, who attended the conference, told the News-Times that a 72-page document outlining the guidelines were handed out.
Although Maple Creek fire department leaders have not delved into it deeply, it is clear that the impact on the town will be much less than feared.
Becker explained the three different service level options.
There were perhaps three or four full-service departments in the province, he said. The defensive level related to departments whose role was containing a fire, not going into it.
“We will be offensive,” said Becker. “It means that if we have to go into a fire, we will do so.”
Becker did not foresee a need for much additional training.
“We are pretty much where we need to be. What we are doing now what we will have to do. There won’t be big implications for our fire department.”
Becker said Maple Creek’s fire department was fortunate in being well equipped.