Red Deer firefighters look for coloured tags on downtown fire hydrants to determine water pressure levels before connecting their hoses to fight blazes, such as this fire at a low-income housing complex last summer. (Advocate file photo.)

Red Deer firefighters look for coloured tags on downtown fire hydrants to determine water pressure levels before connecting their hoses to fight blazes, such as this fire at a low-income housing complex last summer. (Advocate file photo.)

Tagged fire hydrants are some of the City of Red Deer’s new innovations

New ideas are being generated to improve services or save money: general-manager

Colourful tags were added to fire hydrants in downtown Red Deer, saving firefighters precious moments as they battle blazes.

With a blue tag indicating best water flow, and red the worst, this pilot project for fire hydrants is among many efficiencies implemented by City of Red Deer employees to improve operations, said Lisa Perkins, general-manager of corporate and employee services.

Perkins told city councillors as budget talks began on Monday that lightweight blue, green, orange and red tags are now installed on some hydrant outflow valves. At a glance, they allow firefighters to evaluate the water flow that a hydrant is able to provide, improving reaction times at the scene and ensuring fire-trucks get a secure flow, she added.

Emergency Services feedback has been positive for the six-month pilot project that was started last September by the city’s Environmental Services department, said Schaefer. He believes coloured tags could eventually be added to hydrants around the city after flow pressure tests are done.

Perkins told city councillors all city departments have been seeking out new improvements to boost customer service and/or save money. For instance, the land and economic development department launched several successful initiatives, including a networking group created to connect landlords and security guards in the downtown.

This network allows information about crimes and other concerns to flow quickly between property and business owners and police, allowing for quick action on crime prevention and other matters, said Perkins.

Among other highlights Perkins noted are the corporate restructuring underway this fall to eliminated about 67 full-time equivalent positions, many in upper and middle management through early retirement incentives. This saved the city $5.8 million and distributed more decision-making power “to appropriate levels.”

Also, she said, criminal record checks were moved to an online system to improve the tracking of requests and to save 100 hours annually for municipal policing. Among the other measures:

l The city’s former warming centre was refurbished to become a mobile classroom for emergency services training. This saved the city $300,000.

l An online bike option was much more successful than in-person auctions from the past, adding $25,000 to the city’s general revenue, compared to $17,00 last year and $3,000 in 2018.

l Transit shelters were moved from slower routes and relocated to busier routes, maximizing utilization and saving the need for more shelters.

l Staff helped spread information at a public call centre, and a new business information website were measures implemented to assist the community during the pandemic.



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