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Thorsby Transitions to Mutual Aid

February 24 2014
Thorsby, Alberta: In response to the walkout by the Thorsby Volunteer Fire Department, the Village of Thorsby requested assistance from the City of Leduc Fire Department to provide 24/7 fire coverage for the village as well as the District of Thorsby.

As of Monday, February 24 at 10:00 a.m., the Village of Thorsby will no longer have a full-time fire crew in its station. Without the return of the volunteer department, the next phase is to provide fire protection through existing mutual aid agreements.

“The Village of Thorsby cannot afford a full-time, paid fire crew providing services. At the same time, the Village cannot afford to have a relationship with the Fire Chief that lacks accountability and management best practices,” says Thorsby CAO Jason Gariepy.

In simplest terms, mutual aid means that neighboring municipalities will provide assistance in the case of a fire. It also means that response times will take longer and in some cases double the amount of time. “What would have taken 15 minutes to respond could take 40 minutes or longer depending on the situation,” notes Gariepy. “There is no question this a substantial drop in service level.”

On Saturday, February 22, Thorsby CAO met with representatives of the volunteer fire department. The Village presented a list of management expectations, roles, and responsibilities. It included:

• Three-year terms for the Fire Chief with no term limit.
• Active participation by the Fire Chief at Village meetings, budgets, and to provide regular reports to Council.
• The need for a clear succession plan.
• Mandatory Dry Fire Station (no alcohol unless a liquor permit is secured)
• Criminal record checks for all volunteer firefighters.
• No direct reporting relationship between the Fire Chief and direct relatives.

In return, the firefighters provided a 16-point list of requests, which have not been disclosed publicly or to media.

“It is disappointing that a sense of duty to protect the residents, businesses, and community is being placed at risk because of the dispute,” says Gariepy. “However, based upon my conversation with the volunteers, I am hopeful an agreement can be place,” says Gariepy.

Jason Gariepy, CAO
Village of Thorsby
Phone: 780.902.3630
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