Firefighter training grants cut by Alberta government
EDMONTON -- Wildfire season officially started in Alberta on Sunday, but firefighters are sounding the alarm now that a training-grant paid for by the province is being cut. The organization representing fire chiefs is most concerned about rural fire services.
"For us to lose this grant it's going to greatly affect fire departments across this province," said Jon Koroluk, the Fire Chief for the Village of Edgerton.
The half a million dollar grant was divvyed up among departments across the province each year. It covers training to respond to fires, car crashes, or how to handle hazardous materials.
The cut means Edgerton and its seven surrounding departments won't be getting the $37,000 the region applied for.
"Where do we cut from? Do we cut from equipment and maintenance to the apparatus that we have or do we cut training that's going to keep my firefighters safe and give them the best tools available to help them keep the people who we serve safe?" Koroluk said.
A provincial spokesperson says the delivery of fire services is a municipal responsibility, meaning fire departments and their training budgets are funded by local governments. As such they they have dissolved a small training grant that was developed in better economic times.
The Alberta fire chiefs association believes while the grant was small, getting rid of it could have large consequences.
"You have to wonder whether or not a person is going to step up and volunteer if you realize they're not going to get the training that they might need," said Fred Tyrell of the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association.
In November the UCP government also cut a program for firefighters who rappel from helicopters to fight forest fires. Given the recent fires across Alberta, firefighters say they wish they were consulted.
"This this comes on the heels of the Chuckegg fire and Fort McMurray fire," Koroluk said.
"It's our hope that premier and cabinet will re-examine this small cut and take a look at the consequences," said Tyrell.
Alberta fire chief's association has reached out to the province. But says as of end of day Friday it had not heard back.