The Town of Ponoka and Ponoka County have teamed up to create a Regional Fire Services Agreement.
The agreement means Ponoka County will provide fire protection services to the town effective immediately.
With the Ponoka Fire Department no longer in service, officials say the Town’s fire service staff and volunteer firefighters are being treated fairly and equitably in accordance with existing contracts and legal obligations.
“On behalf of the Town, I would like to express our deep and sincere appreciation for the dedicated service and outstanding fire protection provided by our Ponoka Fire Department members,” said Town of Ponoka Chief Administrative Officer Albert Flootman in a news release. “The department was formed in 1906 and its many members have demonstrated their professionalism and commitment to the community over the years.”
Under the new agreement, the Town will pay the County $140,000 annually based on a fee-for-service rate that is equivalent to the rate paid by Alberta Transportation for emergency response to motor vehicle accidents on Highway 2. Officials say the annual fee to be paid by the Town is based on an anticipated call volume of roughly 100 fire-related and EMS call per year. The annual amount paid will be reconciled at year-end to reflect the actual call volume. This also includes a joint 911 dispatch service provided through the City of Red Deer Emergency Services.
The Town will also contribute $70,000 annually towards capital replacement costs for a fire engine and aerial fire apparatus that will be required to ensure the Town’s fire protection needs are fully served. Also, the County will purchase the Town’s Engine 16 and Ladder 9 fire emergency vehicles and maintain them to provide full fire protection services to the Town.
Under the agreement, the County will operate out of its own fire hall rather than lease the Town fire hall which will remain a Town-owned building. It also states that in the event of two fires occurring at the same time, the County will activate mutual aid agreements with neighbouring fire departments to supply any additional resources that may be needed. A fire engine however will remain in the Town at all times to respond to calls within Town boundaries.
“This is a fair agreement that should essentially cut our fire protection costs in half, based on our projected call volume,” adds Flootman.
“Citizens made it clear during the election that they wanted us to work together on fire services,” stated Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett. “As we face another tight budget year, this agreement will significantly reduce our fire protection costs, while ensuring our community’s fire safety needs are fully covered.”
Bonnett points out the County is inviting all volunteer firefighters in Ponoka to apply to the regional fire department, “We have well-trained firefighters in town and the County recognizes that.”
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