Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Smoke and flames fan across a farm field west of Carlsborg Road near Sequim Valley Airport after a combine caught fire and spread into surrounding vegetation on Friday afternoon.

Two Alberta farmers begrudge paying for fire department’s assistance

This past Monday, during the Cardston County council meeting, two local farmers attended the question-and-answer period with concerns about hefty bills from the county’s fire departments.

Randy Shaw had a fire in September due to a fallen power line, and Shawn Pitcher had a recent combine fire on his farm.

Both individuals brought bills from their respective department what reflected large totals that the farmers felt were unfair.

Both farmers say they had the fires under control by the time the department showed up and do not understand why the fire department took over and subsequently sent them such a hefty bill.

The situation brings up the question of whether or not a landowner is allowed to refuse help from the fire department.

Stewart said, “45 minutes later, the fire department shows up but there was nothing for them to do. According to the invoice they were there for four hours.

“We didn’t phone them, we didn’t ask for them, we didn’t need them.”

Pitcher echoed this sentiment, saying it was the neighbouring farmers who put out his fire, not the department.

“All the farmers in the area have group text and during harvest time we are all in the field. The minute we see smoke, we all text the group and go help each other. My fire was out before the firemen showed up.”

The two farmers wondered why the county’s fire department needs to get involved when they arrive on the scene of a fire that is under control.

Many in their community have invested money into their own fire protection, and know which buildings, machinery, and goods are worth saving.

Pitcher said that farmers in the area are not insuring items under $50,000, because the insurance premiums and deductibles are so high, it isn’t worth it.

They know which of their equipment and goods are worth saving and which to let burn.

They aren’t able to send this bill on to an insurance company for reimbursement and don’t need the added cost of a fire bill after suffering the loss of accessory buildings or farm machinery.