Officials from the Town of Taber say they’re shocked and disappointed after the Municipal District of Taber sent a letter saying it wants to have its own “MD fire department.”
“This was shocking news,” Taber Mayor Henk De Vlieger. “They just signed a new five-year agreement one month prior to them giving us notice of cancelling that.”
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Right now the Taber Fire Department serves a large surrounding area, west to the village of Barnwell and east to Grassy Lake. The new rural Taber Fire Department will join the three hamlet fire departments in Hays, Grassy Lake and Enchant as well as the Vauxhall Regional Fire Authority fire department.
“In our fire negotiations they wanted a fixed price for our services which we gave them and it was a really good deal,” De Vlieger said. “We thought it was satisfactory, but I guess in the end we found it’s not.”
Staff of the Taber Fire Department said they’re concerned for the people and well-being of the rural communities.
The Taber Fire Department has been in operation for over 200 years and those long-time members believe rural residents will not get the quality care they deserve.
“We have a number of years of experience. We have some gentlemen that have been on the department for 25 years,” Shawn St. Peters, the captain of the Taber Fire Department, said. “We have multiple levels of training, fire instructors. We have strong depth and we have a training centre in town.
“We don’t see how it would make sense for the MD to potentially not have access to that.”
Right now the MD of Taber has purchased a building only three blocks away from the current department.
“Being here for 25 years, I have seen many people come and go. The biggest difficulty is attracting volunteers and being able to retain them,” Clarence Bos, a volunteer with the Taber Fire Department, said. “Duplicating services – it’s going to water down the level of service we are providing. It’s going to create animosity between fire departments.”
The MD was not available for comment, but the Taber Fire Department will be attending a meeting next week in hopes of reversing the MD’s decision.
“We deal with people’s lives,” De Vlieger said. “We want the highest standard to rescue and save people lives.”