Emergency services are vital to community health and well-being. In early 2021, Resort Village Council determinedEmergency Vehicles emergency services in the Resort Village could be run more effectively and efficiently if the Fire Department, Medical First Responders and the Emergency Measures Organization merged to become one unit called Candle Lake Emergency Services.
The timing of this merger was right, as in October 2022, the provincial government passed legislation requiring all fire departments (volunteer or otherwise) to formally declare the level of service they can provide to a community or area. Resort Village Council directed Administration to develop a plan to enhance emergency services in the Resort Village, including plans to address the risk of wildfire.
The Candle Lake 10 Year Emergency Services Master Plan provides direction and a framework that can be implemented and aligned with a community plan, in conjunction with operational planning, and a defined budget and policy making process.
The Plan identified 63 recommendations, some of which could be implemented immediately, and in the short and longer term. Some of the recommendations are ‘operational’ and would be implemented by the Fire Chief and others are ‘administrative’ and would implemented by Mayor and Council with a financial commitment or policy, with the overall goal of moving our Emergency Services forward into the future with a strategic focus.
Key to implementing the Master Plan was the hiring of a full-time Fire Chief, in fact this was one of the top recommendations of the plan.
Progress made to date
Over the past number of months, the Fire Chief and his team of Firefighters have implemented several of the recommendations, and many more are underway.
Over half the 63 recommendations to enhance internal and external services over the next 10 years have been completed, and another quarter are in progress.
For example, training in vehicle extrication, handling of hazardous materials and light urban rescue training has beenVehicle extrication training completed or begun, and all fire equipment including vehicles have been inspected. Standards have been created or updated in several areas including the use of a portable water tank in firefighting operations, occupational health and safety, the investigation of fires, etc. Firefighter gear and helmets have been replaced to meet health and safety standards, lights and sirens have been upgraded, and commercial fire inspections are underway. A back up power supply has been made available to the fire hall, and a preventative maintenance program for all fire department apparatus is 90% completed. Fire service agreements with Lakeland Fire Department and Torch River Fire Service are being updated and ideas on a joint training exercise are being considered.
Thanks to these efforts to enhance fire protection services for our citizens and property owners, in October 2023, our Fire Department declared itself as a defensive operations department and the Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS) upgraded our Dwelling Protection Grade for Resort Village dwellings located within 8 km of the fire station and for businesses located within a 5 km travel distance of the fire station. The FUS looks at things like fire apparatus and equipment, emergency services management, fire training, ability to deliver to water supply, fire prevention activities, and other factors. Insurers use this information to help establish fire insurance premiums, generally offering lower premiums in communities with better protection.
The Dwelling Protection Grade for Resort Village dwellings located within 8 km of the fire station and for businesses located within a 5 km travel distance of the fire station has been upgraded!
Long term future of Emergency Services
The Master Plan recommended longer term recommendations like minimum levels of training for firefighters, a capital reserve plan to replace fire service vehicles, and a new Fire Hall better suited to meeting the requirements of today’s fire service. Many of these items would require significant investments from the community in the future. For now, we want to thank all of the personnel who have contributed to strengthening our Emergency Services to date, and our Fire Chief for providing leadership and structure to our services.
Would you like to be involved in this progressive and exciting work?
The Candle Lake Fire Department is looking for Firefighters and Medical First Responders to help provide fire suppression services and emergency medical care to people living in or visiting the Candle Lake area. In addition to helping others in emergency situations, this work provides a chance to meet people in our community, stay in shape, learn new skills, and more! All training is provided through the Department.