Saturday, February 16, 2013

A True Story?

Once upon a time on a highway, not so long ago and not so far away, there was a traffic accident. It was a not too serious accident with no really serious injuries.

The 911 center received the call and called out the fire department from the Village of Alpha*. They also called out the fire department from the Village of Bravo*.

When the Bravo fire chief heard that the fire department from the Village of Alpha had been called out, he demanded that they be stood down -- even though Alpha was the closest municipality to the accident.

So, the members of the Alpha fire department sat in their fire hall and listened to the radio, as the Bravo Fire Department responded to the call.

Then, the Alpha firefighters heard the Bravo fire chief call in the Village of Charlie* fire department for assistance, while they sat patiently in their fire hall in downtown Alpha.  Charlie was even farther away from the accident, but their fire department dutifully responded!

This story reads stranger than the strangest fiction! I don't know how much of the story is true but I'm going to find out!  Stay tuned on this one!

*The names have been changed to protect everybody! 

Follow-up, March 10th:  Fire Department Misunderstandings


  1. Thank you very much Mayor, for looking into this. I believe that sorting out this mess should be a top priority for all villagers.

    As a Canadian I believe one of the key roles of government is to ensure that everyone is subject to the Rule of Law. That being that no individual or agency is putting itself above any law or legislation. I believe that there are some agencies in this day forget that as a government service they are not above the law or the citizens they are responsible to the people.

    I would like to point out an observation that I have made during my time in the county and the village. It seems that there is a problem with a particular Fire Station repeatedly acting as an authority over the other. When in reality neither station is subordinate to the other. Events like the one you addressed in your post, have occurred a few times. Because we are dealing with the emergency services this issue is important because citizens lives are on the line. As your post describes risky stand down decisions have been made with disregard to citizens lives, and when seconds can save someone.

    Now I would argue this one particular Station you describe acts as if it is an institution of governance, when in reality it is an institution of the government. Governance and Government are as you know are different. As a CANADIAN citizen I do not want to ever hear of any fire chief (who is unelected, and not a member of any governing body, I might add.) acting as an authority of public policy, and dictating policy, when peoples lives are on the line. I want the fire service to do what they are trained to do and help citizens in crisis. I vote so that my elected representatives interpret and dictate public policy and through proper governance ensure that the necessary resources are dispatched to emergencies.

    As anyone involved in politics knows, the true definition of politics is, "the struggle for power". It seems as though this one fire station that continues to stand down the other, is doing acting as if it is a power, and wanting to expand its power. The Fire Service is a government institution that exists to save lives, property, environment, and to serve. NOT to compete for power. This Fire Station needs to ask itself honestly whether it actions or motivated by wanting more power and call volume, or doing what is best for the citizens it is responsible to in crisis. Lets leave the politics to the politicians and citizens, and let the fire service serve the citizens.

    Thank you for your time Mayor, and thank you for your service. I again would like to thank you for investigating this event. I really hope you post this comment as it could generate some great democratic political discussion. And I hope that anyone who comments does so with respect.

    "A responsible citizen holds his or her government representatives accountable, and responsible representatives hold themselves and government institutions accountable. The latter is democracy."

  2. Very well writen. Thankyou concerned. I hope this does encite public debate and awarness ,

  3. Thank you Mr. Pendleton for all of your service.

    I am completely lost for words because of this event. In a big Alberta metropolitan, an event like this would never happen, and if it did there would be a massive public out cry, and you can bet serious consequences. Why shouldn't rural Albertan Fire departments be held to the same level of accountability? It seems completely irrational that Beiseker Fire, who I understand and have read is full of qualified and possibly over qualified firefighters who are proud to serve and want to help, would be stood down when they are closest. Some serious questions need to be asked and answered with fact and proof.

    What really gets to me, is that member(s) of this particular station believe they possess the right to dictate public policy, without any legitimate (legal) authority on the matters. As I mentioned earlier the politicians need to deal with this, and not distract firefighters with the issue. I have full confidence and trust that Mayor Courtman will deal with this appropriately and in reasonable time.

    It seems completely unreasonable to me that people who drive highways near the village do not have access to the nearest fire service when they are in need of help.

  4. in between the lines.March 10, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Why would anyone want to move to Beiseker or build a house here if events like this are going to happen? Citizens need to have access to the closest fire service possible, and it is in the best interest of the village(citizens, business and council) to fund their existing volunteer fire service.

    No new potential home buyer will be thrilled if they hear of event like the one in the post. Also the village will scare away home buyers if they allow a fire station 12-15 minutes away to be the first responders to calls in the village. We need a station in the village by all means necessary. If we don't
    it will scare away potential buyers.

    1. When Ray said in the first paragraph that the accident happened "out on the highway," I'd have guessed that meant outside the village corporate limits. If it had happened in the village - on North Road, let's say - they would not have needed to call out another department. Right?

  5. in between the linesMarch 10, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    If it happened with in Beisekers corporate boundaries Beiseker will respond. The question being asked though, is why was 130 station stood down when they were the closest department to the incident? Our villages fire fighter are equipped and trained to deal with car accidents and are as qualified or perhaps more qualified then some members of other departments.

    At the end of the day all fire services need to drop the politics and work together with the public's best interest in mind.

    1. That didn't seem to be the question asked in the first comment I replied to?

      I read, quote, "Why would anyone want to move to Beiseker or build a house here if events like this are going to happen?"

      And then,

      "the village will scare away home buyers if they allow a fire station 12-15 minutes away to be the first responders to calls in the village."

      Maybe that was just hyperbole. Anyway - sorry about the misunderstanding.

    2. In between the linesMarch 10, 2013 at 11:31 PM

      My Apologies RHYS !! I misread what you were asking. Sorry if I came off a little bit condescending!! Really Sorry. Thanks for partaking in this discussion.

      The Mayor's new post gives a bit more information.

      Sorry again.

  6. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    I've made a follow-up post to this, here;

    Write Ray!: Fire Department Misunderstandings

  7. I also want to say, to those of you who are thinking of moving to Beiseker or investing in living outhere. The Beiesker Fire Dept is full of well trained committed volunteers who are very willing to help anyone, anywhere in any senario. Just because we are not going out on the highways everytime and not able to help people in the county (yet) doesnt mean we dont do our absolute best in town helping all you!! We dont do it for the money, ("volunteer") we do it becuase we love it. Thanks to all of you for the support -

    A Beiseker Firefighter.

  8. Hey Anon: Excellent comment. Couldn't have said it better myself! Let's see if we can drum up a few more who would like to join your "Best Little Volunteer Fire Department Ever"!