The Airdrie Fire Department had a record-breaking year in 2022, as call volume jumped by 20.5 per cent over the previous year putting a strain on resources.
Airdrie continues to grow each and every year, and 2022 is no exception. As the community grows, so does the demand for more services to accommodate a greater population and economic sector.
“If I could theme the last few years, it would be persistent growth,” summarized Chief Pirie. “Recognizing Airdrie’s substantial growth compiled over recent years is imperative as it stresses the need to expand our level of service to decrease emergency response times.”
The resources needed to respond to emergencies in 2022 frequently required additional assistance from adjacent communities, particularly in the city's northeast. This has an impact not just on response times but also on regional support and management programs.
To assist in alleviating this load, the department is asking Council for further direction on a Highland Fire Station and training facility in 2023.
On April 4, 2022, a fire along the CP Rail line required the coordination of numerous municipalities as far away as Cochrane and Redwood Meadows. It spanned a large swath of area from beyond the city limits north of Airdrie, through the city's heart, and south of the city's outskirts.
“I would like to see more regional collaboration in the coming year,” stated Chief Pirie. “We spent the last several years doing exhaustive work with other municipalities to reduce duplication. I want to continue expanding this effort in the Airdrie region.”
Last year also witnessed an upsurge in residential structure fires that started on the outside of homes within Airdrie. The Hillcrest fire on August 9, 2022, was exceptionally destructive, with the property completely destroyed and nearby residences also damaged.
On New Year's Day, the All Fitts Auto commercial fire occurred on the building's external perimeter, inflicting substantial damage to the business, halting day-to-day operations and affecting employment, revenue, and service to residents.
“The consequences of not responding timely to a fire are detrimental not only to the business but to residents reliant on employment and services affecting the community as a whole,” commented Chief Pirie.
The most common call out for 2022 were medical calls at 48.5 per cent which remains consistent with previous years.
The department is increasing its medical training programs to help manage longer times on scene, which is made feasible by new medical simulation capabilities. But the greater provincial issue remains.
Airdrie Fire desires to see the Provincial EMS Plan implemented in the hopes that it will have a positive impact on fire service, such as reducing the amount of time firefighters spend with medical patients.
Grant funding for municipalities to support emergency services training and programs is also on the wish list for 2023.
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