Mayor of Slave Lake
Often as a Town we forget to toot our own horn.
Saying that I’m about to step back and give credit where credit is due! This is one that certainly should be recognized. I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about the fire department.
I have been recently asked questions from residents including, ‘What’s all the equipment that is housed at the Fire Hall in Slave Lake?’, ‘What’s with the playground?’, and ‘What were all those people doing there a few weeks ago?
Well in the next couple of minutes I’ll answer all of those questions.
First off, what’s with all the equipment in the yard?
You may or may not know that our fire department previously had a live fire training centre located along Highway 88. This fire training centre was filled with equipment such as sea cans, huge tanks for confined space training, and a classroom. It allowed the fire department to train for real life scenarios in a “hands on” atmosphere. Since moving to the new site at the beginning of this year, it has allowed our dept. to expand its scope of training. Through partnerships with industry and local and provincial grants, this training area has evolved into one of the biggest and best training platforms in Western Canada.
Our Firefighters have the ability to be trained for high angle rescue, live fire, underground bunker fires, confined space, oilfield and gas fire and rescue, underground utility, rail disaster, ice rescue and swift water and the list goes on. The biggest question is why do they need all that training? Well, when your dept. has five halls and covers over 10,000 sq. kms, you are going to end up going to one of these calls sooner or later, and if we are going to go, our Chief thinks the team better know what they are doing.
What has evolved is the fact that the facility is now being used by other groups, other fire departments, and other organizations.
The biggest question is what does this all cost? The great news, through grants and partnerships, our Fire Chief has been able to build this with literally no tax dollars. It sounds too good to be true, and he’s done a good job bring people together. A perfect example is the Fire Training Centre.
Additionally because of this facility, we are attracting the interest of other groups that have been using it. With the use of the facility being up we are now getting additional revenue we didn’t expect.
To add to that, one of the recent grants the Firefighters applied for included a community component that had to be defined as part of the application. The Fire Department chose to build an outdoor fitness park if it was successful in its grant application.
They were successful, and so decided to start construction right away. They also wanted to make sure the park had some community significance, and so the park was named after Connor Lukan, a local hockey player who tragically lost his life in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash this past spring.
When the suppliers of the fitness park heard what the Firefighters were doing and the suppliers decided to leverage the funds we were putting towards the park and essentially made a huge donation of their own.
This meant the park that was originally planned was bumped up to a larger version. This meant that we got the ‘900 series’ instead of the ‘300 series’.
Now here is what makes that so important, this ‘900 series’ is the first of its kind in Canada.
The Connor Lukan Fitness Park officially opened in early October, and it is open for anyone from the public to use it. Council and Administration are looking into expanding our trail system to make it easier for the public to access it.
To the third and last question: if you haven’t heard, recently the Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service hosted a National Volunteer Firefighter conference, with over 300 delegates from across Canada, and even some coming from Japan. It was a massive undertaking, but was a tremendous opportunity to show 300 people how great the new firehall and live fire training facility are, as well as how great this community is.
In closing I just want to thank Chief Coutts and the entire Fire Department for working tirelessly to protect the people and property of this region. They are constantly working hard to save us money and provide some of the best training possible for their people.
All of this is happening while they are on track to have their busiest year for number of calls ever! They are currently over 300 and climbing.
They are also currently in a recruitment phase looking for some dedicated individuals who want to make a difference in their community.