False alarms challenge Wetaskiwin County fire departments

This year false alarms have posed a leading challenge for fire departments across the County of Wetaskiwin...

Mike Zajac

Mike Zajac

This year false alarms have posed a leading challenge for fire departments across the County of Wetaskiwin and is serving as a public education issue during Fire Prevention Week.

County of Wetaskiwin director of emergency services Mike Zajac says Mulhurst Bay, the Village of Pigeon Lake and the summer villages surrounding the lake have seen huge numbers of false alarms.

“Pigeon Lake, they’re approaching 30 alarms to date and only two turned out to be fire,” said Zajac in an interview with the Pipestone Flyer, Sept. 23.

Zajac says it puts both the fire department member and the public at risk if unnecessary calls are being responded to. It also utilizes resources that may be needed in the event of a real emergency.

“I think it’s more of an education process,” said Zajac.

Along with visiting schools and residential neighbourhoods, the South Pigeon Lake and Mulhurst Bay departments provide education programs to camps surrounding the lake.

Zajac says the County of Wetaskiwin is seeing an increase in call volume this year over last. Sitting at approximately 300, it is roughly 100 calls above where the county was last year. In 2014 is was 250 calls and 264 in 2013.

“Call volumes across (the) county are right up. There’s no one specific reason,” said Zajac. However, he added false alarms do seem to be a problem area.

Volunteer recruitment poses a challenge for some departments, as did the dry spring. “We were prompted to put a fire ban on really quick,” said Zajac.

He added the proactive measures were put in place to create a slower wild fire season, which was dampened by a wetter summer.

Since Fire Prevention Week 2015 the South Pigeon Lake fire department purchased a new rescue truck and Buck Lake is getting one within the next month. Zajac added by November the Mulhurst Bay department should have its new command utility truck.

Earlier this year the County of Wetaskiwin replaced an existing radio tower with a new 250 foot communication tower. “That’s an integral part of our communication infrastructure,” said Zajac.