A lot went right for the Strathmore Fire Department (SFD) last year; whether it was interacting with the community more or saving us tax dollars, the SFD was busy making our community better beyond their obvious main purpose of preventing and putting out fires.
Strathmore Fire Chief David Sturgeon explained the SFD is looking to build on some of 2022's successes, like adapting services to match Strathmore's needs. Sturgeon said the SFD looked at ways to maximize efficiency for our community specifically, and one way they did this was by cutting their special teams of high angle rescues and swift water rescue.
"They're (the special teams) incredibly expensive and very cumbersome for labor, as the training hour demands are very high. We felt that because there was no risk within the Town of Strathmore for those two items that we could delete those items and essentially save taxpayers money and realign our training to focus on our core skills," he said.
Regarding community involvement, Sturgeon said we can expect firefighters to stay active with events like last year, but he's also thinking outside the box by joining groups like the homeless shelter, animal care centres, crisis societies, and more.
Getting the opportunity to work with the youth in the community is one thing that the firefighters truly enjoy, "The smiles on their faces and seeing how excited they get to come, it just reminds you why you got into doing what we do."
"We're really trying to build our presence within those agencies and just think of things that traditionally fire departments wouldn't do in the past that maybe we could offer as a service, in turn helping the residents and visitors. If we come across vulnerable people that we actually have those relationships built where we can refer them to the proper resources."
The SFD also saw some growth last year, with 7 new volunteer recruits graduating with full firefighter NFPA 1001 level 2 certifications, and Sturgeon hopes to continue expanding the volunteer base, as he said the hard work volunteers put in is critical to operations. Sturgeon expects 5 new recruits to be fully certified towards the end of the year, and also hopes to recruit 6-8 new recruits in August/September.
Sturgeon explained many of the firefighters on scene are actually volunteers, and with budget constraints limiting how much the SFD can hire, the volunteers play a key role in maintaining a lower budget.
Other 2022 successes included, but weren't limited to:
- Increased community involvement and presence at events
- Increase training frequency and focus on core response skills.
- Related to this, they also digitized their training and certification records to ensure compliance and easily target members that may have missed training or have expired certifications
- Instituted online inspection forms where businesses and institutions receive their fire inspection report and can correct deficiencies in a timely manner.
As for what Sturgeon wants to improve in the new year, he pointed to communication. While you can hear about what the SFD is doing through the Town of Strathmore's Facebook page, Sturgeon said he hopes to coordinate a stronger effort to reach out to the community through other means, like attending more events and reaching out to the media to share important news and updates.
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