WHEREAS the Alberta Emergency Management Agency has been engaging working committees, including one for Fire and Emergency Services Training Initiative (FESTI) to make certain recommendations on the training of volunteer fire fighters;
WHEREAS the Stakeholder Engagement Report is recommending that there be certain mandatory requirements for volunteer fire fighters;
WHEREAS any such mandatory requirements could hasten the demise of small rural fire departments;
WHEREAS municipal councils remain committed to ensuring adequate training for the safety of both the public and fire fighters and are best positioned to determine local needs;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC advocate to the Government of Alberta to consider the potential negative impacts of mandatory training requirements on the sustainability of local fire departments utilizing volunteer and paid-on call fire fighters.
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC urge the Government of Alberta to identify training requirements and enable municipalities to address training needs in a discretionary manner.
Rural municipalities support the training of volunteer fire departments and appreciate the funding the provincial government has provided for training over the past few years. However this latest initiative of the Fire Commissioner’s Office goes too far in that it appears that the recommendation is to make minimum training mandatory. Cypress County has been offering training courses for many years and many of the volunteers in our 7 departments have availed themselves of the training. Where the problem arises is that in certain cases the members, even though they attend the courses, and take the training, do not want to write the exams and complete the certification. This could be for a number of reasons, but the fact is that we will lose these people if the certification becomes mandatory.
The second issue here is autonomy. Rural municipalities have always advocated for local decisions and opposed unduly burdensome rules from the government. The report should recommend training levels and then elected officials should continue to be empowered to do their due diligence in making the proper decisions as each council deems appropriate.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions related to this issue.