High Prairie records higher calls, false alarms

The High Prairie Volunteer Fire Department: in the front row, left-right, are Trevor Cisaroski, Kennedy Buchan, Luci Martinson, Chantelle Ayles, Edwina Ayles, Kevin Culver, fire chief Ken Melnyk, and training officer and assistant fire chief Jason Cottingham. In the back row, left-right, are Jessie Nobert, Kyle Rosychuk, Dave Martinson, Steven Rotenburger, John Hesse, Capt. Brandon Letendre, Mike Beylan, Capt. Mike Caron, and deputy fire chief Dan Gillmor. Missing in the photo are Zac Hamelin, Mitch Parker, Dan Mercer, Prince Bartelome, Dan Helmers, Darcy Foster, John Loge, Kody Robinson, Jenny Ehman, Jake Matula, Kyle Frith and Sherri Foster.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

High Prairie Volunteer Fire Department has received a growing numbers of calls and false alarms.

“We’ve had about 95 calls to the end of September, which is up a bit from last year,” fire chief Ken Melnyk says.

For the same period last year, the department recorded 70 calls.

“On average, we get about 130 calls a year, and by the end of this year, we’ll probably be up there,” Melnyk says.

One issue that is concerning him more than anything is the growing and alarming rate of false alarms.

“Of the 92 calls we have, 30 of those have been false alarms,” Melnyk says.

“More and more people are getting security alarms for their homes and they’re not maintaining them and they don’t remember their password or PIN number.”

He reminds residents to know the process.

“When your alarm company calls to verify the alarm, you need to give the correct password to cancel the alarm, otherwise they phone us,” Melnyk says.

“Our fire department is made up of all volunteers who have jobs and families and when they get called to a false alarm in the day or middle of the night, it unnecessarily disrupts them from their work or home,” Melnyk says.

No major structure fires have been reported this year.

“We haven’t lost any buildings,” Melnyk says.

About one third of the calls have been to motor vehicle collisions, including two tanker truck rollovers, he says.

Crews responded to a head-on collision that included about six people on Highway 2 just east of the railway crossing on Sept. 17 around 8 p.m.

“As bad as the vehicles were smashed, fortunately no one was seriously injured,” Melnyk says.

“Thank goodness everyone was wearing seatbelts and that’s why injuries weren’t more serious.”

He notes that is a lesson for everyone getting into a vehicle as drivers and passengers.

“Seatbelts do save lives, there’s no doubt about it,” Melnyk says.

High Prairie crews also assisted STARS air ambulance in several other calls.

More volunteers are needed to bolster the department.

“As usual, the fire department is looking for volunteers,” Melnyk says.

“Our membership is down to 26 and I try to maintain a roster of 36.”

A junior firefighter for youth ages 14-18 has helped in the past few years.

“We have two former junior firefighters who are now fully trained regular members,” says Melnyk.

“So the junior program is a good way to help recruit new firefighters.”

The fire department practises every Monday at 7 p.m.

For more information, phone Melnyk at the office at [780] 523-3525 or on cell at [780] 523-7733.


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