The fourth quarter and year-end Merrickville Fire Department (MFD) report was presented to council last week, outlining the significant emphasis they place on training in order to make sure Merrickville-Wolford is a safe place to live.
According to the report, the MFD responds to between 65-80 calls for service every year on average. The calls are primarily responses to medical assists (due to paramedics having to respond from Smiths Falls or Kemptville), motor vehicle collisions, and fire/carbon monoxide alarms. Last year, the Department saw an increase in calls, from 65 to 76, as compared to 2018.
Training and equipment maintenance are a priority for the MFD. All members commit a lot of time and effort to ensuring that their training is up to the provincial standard. The MFD has adopted the National Fire Protection Association Firefighter 1 and 2, 1001 Training Program and has been following it for the past five years.
“Ensuring that the training program(s) for the firefighters is attainable, accessible, and to a recognized provincial standard, is critical to the level of service expected from the citizens we serve,” the report states. In the fourth quarter alone, fire fighters spent 220 hours training and 150 hours responding to emergency calls.
The only question that was directed to Fire Chief Brad Cole came from Councillor Timothy Molloy, who asked why residents had to apply for a burn permit every year, rather than having an ongoing agreement with the MFD to allow burning. Fire Chief Cole replied that it is easier for the MFD to track and report on burn permits yearly, and that yearly applications allow them to remind residents of the stipulations that go along with a burn permit. “They are acknowledging and taking ownership of what they can and can’t do,” he said.
Mayor Doug Struthers said at the meeting that, while having data available, and training is important, it is also important to recognize the huge dedication of time by the MFD’s volunteer fire fighters. Not only are they dedicated to their regular duties as fire fighters, many also volunteer in the community at events like Christmas in Merrickville, the CP Holiday Train, and their annual Halloween party. The Merrickville Fire Fighters Association is also in the process of raising money towards purchasing a new thermal imaging camera for improved firefighter safety and ease of heat and fire detection within a structure. “It is so valued and appreciated by the community,” Mayor Struthers said.