Fire department officials from around Wheatland County got together in Strathmore this week to talk about the county's proposed new fire service bylaw.

Rural fire associations in communities around Wheatland complained that they were not consulted before the county went ahead with a bylaw that puts most local firefighting decisions under the control of a county fire chief.

Representatives, including local fire chiefs and municipal councilors, sat down with Wheatland councilors on September 10.

"I thought it went fairly well from my perspective: there were a number of quesitons, but there's still a lot of work to be done in regards to it, though," stated Wheatland County CAO Alan Parkin. "I think this is the first step, but we have many more steps ahead. We are trying to arrange another meeting in October to sit down with the group and talk about more of the concerns that they have and how we can rectify those."

The bylaw would give a county fire chief the final say on equipment purchases and training for each fire hall within the Wheatland County limits. That includes Rockyford, Standard, Hussar, Rosebud and Dalum.

"I think we're trying to ensure our bylaws and policies and agreements are up to date," Parkin explained. "The last time we had approved a fire service bylaw was 2014: things have changed in the last four years and we're just trying to keep it up to date."

"Some of the stuff is perpetuated from some of the provincial changes with labour standards, OH&S (Occupational Health and Safety), there's some WCB (Workers Compensation Board) changes. Not all of it is perpetuated from that, but some of it for sure is."

Council agreed to seek assistance from the Office of the Provincial Fire Commissioner to conduct a review and provide an assessment of the County’s ability to meet all liabilities and responsibilities in regards to providing fire services within Wheatland County.

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