Media Source: Sherwood Park News
A year removed from going into service, Strathcona County Emergency Services recently celebrated its newest $20.8 million fire station.
The construction of Fire Station No. 6 was in response to emergency call volumes increasing by seven to 10 per cent annually, due in large part to rapidly increasing population growth throughout the county.
Since taking dispatch calls in May of last year, Station No. 6 has already proven its value by allowing the emergency services department to arrive on an emergency scene quicker, significantly improving the overall outcome of a call, according to fire chief Iain Bushell.
“We started responding from Station 6 in May of last year, and since then we’ve already experienced an overall call response improvement of five per cent,” he said during his announcement at the official opening ceremonies for the station. “Five per cent might not sound like a lot, but five per cent means seconds, and seconds count in this business.
We expect to see a further reduction in our response times as the northern part of our community and the area of Sherwood Park continues to grow.”
The newest fire station is located the farthest north of three Sherwood Park stations, located at 915 Bison Way, and was chosen to meet the emergency response needs of burgeoning industrial facilities and the blossoming residential needs of Emerald Hills and Lakeland Ridge.
Strathcona County also has three rural fire stations in Ardrossan, South Cooking Lake and north of Josephburg.
“As one of the six stations, it’s going to have to focus and the advantage of being closer to that new node of population, which is the Cambrian residential area, which is that Emerald Drive area which has mushroomed overnight,” Mayor Roxanne Carr explained.
“It’s certainly a step in building Alberta, it’s a step in our community and it’s also enhancing safety. We’ve grown a lot in this community and we have to keep up with the growth,” Sherwood Park MLA Cathy Olesen said.
Over a 12-year span, the Strathcona County community has seen its population increase by 23.4 per cent, while more than 8,000 businesses have cropped up throughout the region in a four-year period, or one business every 1.28 days, Carr stated.
“We are now more balanced in our ability to provide good and fast service to our local public when it comes to paramedics and fire,” she added.
“Fire Station No. 6 will help us achieve our mission of leading our community to be the safest in Canada, while creating a helping and caring community,” said deputy fire chief Barry Bousema.
In partnership with the provincial government, which contributed $14.5 million through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) and the Alberta Municipal Infrastructure Program, Strathcona County earmarked $6.3 million to support the development of Fire Station No. 6.
The fire station serves as a multi-purpose facility providing training facilities for Strathcona County firefighters while becoming the hub of service for a number of groups, including management and administrative teams, emergency management, and fire prevention and investigation.
Fire Station No. 6 will see a minimum of seven firefighters, emergency medical technicians and officers per shift.
The station is a far cry from the department’s humble beginnings in 1956 when the volunteer brigade operated out of the fire chief’s garage.
MSI is the province’s main program for strengthening municipalities and helping focus on local priorities.
Strathcona County is estimated to receive $258 million in MSI funding to support projects including the Ardrossan Recreation Complex, the Josephburg public works yard and the upgrading of Baseline Road over the life of the initiative.