CHESTERMERE – On Jan. 4, the Town of Chestermere officially announced that they would be taking control of all fire services in the community, which have previously been under the direction of Rocky View. The current Fire Service Agreement will end on Feb. 18, with the Chestermere Fire Department officially assuming it’s role on Feb. 19.
Rocky View County has worked collaboratively to provide fire services to the Town for the past 10 years. Mayor Patricia Matthews said that they have always had an excellent relationship with Rocky View from a fire services perspective, but that taking control of the fire department is an important step in becoming more sustainable as a town.
“In the fall we looked at what we could do to make ourselves more sustainable overall, and we looked at the fire services in particular as part of moving forward,” she said. “We’ve grown big enough that we can sustain our own fire department, and it no longer makes sense to rely on anyone else.
“We’ve looked at many ways to make ourselves sustainable, and this is just a good step towards doing so.”
Matthews said that making this move has always been the intention.
“That’s why we have the equipment, and that’s why we have the fire hall,” she said. “Now seems to be a good time, so we may as well forge ahead and bring everything in-house.”
Deputy Mayor Kelsey Johnson said that funding for the fire hall came from the MSI (Municipal Sustainability Initiative) Grant, so no Rocky View dollars were put toward the hall.
“The Town of Chestermere has always owned the building and all of the equipment,” he said. “Rocky View only owned the bunker gear of the full time crew, but that will be purchased from the county. Otherwise we were fully equipped.
“Now when people call for the fire department in Chestermere, the people who will be getting in the truck to respond will be Chestermere firefighters.”
Johnson said that taxes won’t be affected by this change, as the amount that is paid to the county for their services, will now be received from the county, as Chestermere will be providing service to the outlying areas.
“In the past, we had agreement with Rocky View where they came to us, but now we will be going into their area, and we will be paid for that service,” Johnson said. “I think it’s a positive change.
“It’s part of growing as a community and being able to support your own services. We’re not relying on anyone else, and we’ll be able to get our firefighters more involved in the community, which we think will be good for everyone.”
Johnson said that they’re unsure of how many members will make up the Chestermere team, as they are in the process of looking at how many full time, paid on-call and volunteer members they will have.
Unfortunately for those making up the current service team in the community, their jobs are not guaranteed through the transition, but the Town is encouraging everyone to re-apply.
“We’ve encouraged them all to apply for the postings, which are already out,” he said. “We’ll see how it shakes out.
“We’ve been very happy with the service we’ve received, so we’ll go from there.”
Both Matthews and Johnson said that the change should be seamless from the community’s perspective.
Matthews said that Rocky View has been excellent at helping them transition to their own department, and that they are thankful and appreciative of the guidance they have provided so far.
Chief Fire Marshal Perry Prete said that he had no comment about the move, as it was completely the Town’s decision to take over fire services.
“Our objective is to make sure things go smoothly and that the transition is flawless without any difficulties,” Prete said.