Welcome to the new normal
Following a record-breaking 2019, the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Fire Service seems to be on pace for something similar in 2020. Chief Alex Pavcek tells The Leader the call total in the first six months of the year was 223 – just under half of the 2019 total.
“I don’t think there is a normal anymore,” he says.
The year started out hot and heavy with traffic incidents. Those tailed off when COVID hit, but medical assistance and alarms went up to balance it out. Lately the traffic stuff has gone up, along with a few actual fires and calls involving water.
“We had three water responses in the last 15 days,” Pavcek says. Everybody was safe. In one case, somebody floated off down the Lesser Slave River in one (or maybe more than one) inflatable device. They were lost and disorientated, Pavcek says, and losing air.
What is usual is that most of the calls are of a minor nature. Two of the more serious ones were a trailer explosion in Marten River Campground, resulting in injuries to six people and something that happened in a house at Fawcett Lake that caused serious burns to a victim.
“One saving grace,” in the business of 2020, Pavcek says, is no forest fire activity to speak of.
The fire service is in the midst of a formal recruitment drive for volunteer members. Deputy chief John McDermott says they have 11 applications so far, and “I’m told more are coming.” Likely not everybody who applies will get through to the status of active firefighter. Requirements are much stricter than they once were, Pavcek says, when you were in “if you could breathe and had a driver’s license.”