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Red Deer County firefighters welcome return of training funding

Alberta government cut firefighter training grant program in 2020
Firefighters from Innisfail, Delburne, Elnora and Red Deer County at a training exercise. (Photo from Red Deer County Twitter)

Red Deer County welcomed the province’s decision to restore a firefighter training grant cut two years ago.

Travis Allred, deputy chief in charge of training for Red Deer County Protective Services, said they are “very excited” the grant is returning.

“Having been the recipient of this type of grant in years past, we are well aware of how such a grant can bolster a training program such as ours,” said Allred.

Municipal Affairs Minister Rebecca Schulz announced on Tuesday that $500,000 a year in grants will be available to fire services to help cover training costs.

“Public safety is a priority for our government,” said Schulz in a statement accompanying the announcement.

“While fire services is a municipal responsibility, these training grants can help ensure the availability of emergency services in some communities, especially as we we work to reduce rural emergency response times.”

Red Deer County trains 100 volunteers to standards set by the National Fire Protection Association. Almost all of that training — covering firefighting, rescues and other operational skills — is done in the county

“Red Deer County is committed to providing this, internationally recognized, certified training to its response personnel to ensure that they can safely provide a professional level of service whenever the call to respond arises.”

Allred said if the county is successful in getting a grant the money will be used to continue and expand the current training program.

“Obviously, the greatest advantage to receiving this type of grant is that we could offer more training to our membership without an additional cost to our local ratepayers.

“We applaud the Alberta government for reinstating this grant, and their continued support of Alberta firefighters.”

In 2020, the last year the grant was provided, the county got $20,000 towards training costs of around $80,000.

The government says the Fire Services Training Program grants are “are intended to supplement training supports already provided by municipalities, First Nations and Metis Settlements to their fire services departments.”

When the government announced it was cutting the grant program in March 2020, the Alberta Fire Fighters Association called the move shortsighted and disappointing.

Alberta Fire Chiefs Association (AFCA) president Randy Schroeder credited the government for bringing back the grants, which he predicted will be well-received by the province’s fire departments.

“The AFCA anticipates the needed support will be highly sought after and strongly encourages a long-term program that is monitored, fostered and supported to meet the future needs of our communities,” said Schroeder, who is fire chief in the County of Lac St. Anne.

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