Big Lakes County’s fire services under review

Richard Froese
For the Lakeside Leader

Big Lakes County is reviewing its fire services, hoping to find ways to operate more efficiently and meet standards.

At its Oct. 14 meeting, county council approved a budget of $65,000 for a consultant to do the review, although not unanimously. Councillors Robert Nygaard and Donald Bissell both voted against the motion. Both are firefighters in the Big Lakes service. Bissell serves as deputy fire chief at Enilda, while Nygaard is on the Faust fire crew. He served as deputy chief for 15 years before stepping down in January of this year.

The contract calls for the fire service to be assessed for legislative compliance and how to create the most efficient and fiscally responsible operation.

“It will be money well spent,” said reeve Richard Simard.

Big Lakes County Fire Services has halls in Enilda, Faust, Grouard, Joussard and Kinuso. One councillor – Don Charrois – questioned whether all five are needed, saying “It will probably come out in the consultation report.”

Brett Hawken, the county’s director of community and protective services, told council he expects the review to “save us millions of dollars in the future.”

The consultant is expected to evaluate administration, operations, health and safety, training and infrastructure. Hawken told council it would “establish in all five categories the best practices, recommendations of how to move forward with improvements and the requirements based on legislation.”

The report is expected before April of next year, but the process (of implementation) will take years, predicted CAO Jordan Panasiuk.

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