Millet fire chief says pay attention while driving to avoid collisions

Massive house fire last summer could have devastated Millet

The Millet Volunteer Fire Department’s most common callout continues to be motor vehicle collisions (MVC’s).

“We have quite the large area on two major highways,” said Fire Chief Steve Moen. The department covers a 20 km stretch of the QEII Hwy. and Hwy. 2A.

Thirty per cent of the department’s callouts this year were MVC’s, according to Moen, on the highways or country roads. “I think distracted driving has a lot to do with that.”

The most serious incident the department responded to this year was the large wildland grass fire May 6, at the edge of town.

It took the whole Millet fire department, as well as the City of Wetaskiwin, the City of Leduc, and the Mulhurst fire departments to get the blaze under control. “It threatened the whole town.” The fire started a about 4 a.m. and burned until 5 p.m.

The Millet Fire Department spent 10 hours the next day putting out all the hotspots, for a total of 350 man hours from their department.

“That was quite a big fire in Millet which opened up a lot of eyes … it made a lot of people aware of the dangers of spring grass fires.” The cause of the fire was undetermined, but the dry season likely contributed to the size and speed of it, says Moen.

Moen says it’s important to be aware of dry conditions when burning, and to remember burn permits are required from April 1 to November 1.

In August, the department received a new emergency tool, a combination of cutters and spreaders called a “combi tool.” It’s similar to the jaws of life, but smaller.

The combi tool is battery-operated and is on the first response truck. The Millet Veteran Firefighters Association (MVFA) raised the $14,000 for the tool from donations from the community.

The MVFA and the Millet Agricultural Society are holding a dinner and silent auction October 20, to raise funds for an all terrain side-by-side vehicle for the department.

The vehicle, which the department hopes to have by next spring, would be used to enter brush for firefighting and rescues where trucks can’t reach. The fire in May showed why such a vehicle is needed, says Moen.

Tickets are available through the MVFA and the town office.

The Millet fire department currently has 28 active members, with six joining this year.

“That’s about our limit as far as available space and gear,” said Moen. “We’re really good right now; we’ve got a good bunch of guys.”

Those interested in applying can e-mail milletfire@millet.ca to request a form.

Applicants only need a “willingness to work as a team,” said Moen. “Everything else can be taught.”

– By Emily Jaycox, for the Pipestone Flyer

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