The Bentley District Fire Department responded to a record-breaking number of calls in 2023
The rural fire department responded to 116 calls, a jump from 106 the previous year.
Fire Chief Ian McLaren said the calls included wildland fires, grass fires, motor vehicle accidents, medical assists, and large structure fires.
“The grain elevator is how we started the year. Of course, that fire started at the end of 2022, but continued into 2023 just because it was a big pile of rubble,” McLaren said. “We eventually had to get a couple of track hoes to help us to spread it out, so that we could finally extinguish it.”
He anticipates call volume to continue to increase each year, partially because of population growth.
When McLaren first joined the Bentley fire crew, the department would respond to about 60 calls a year.
“We’re always hoping that our fire safety programs, and going into schools to talk to the kids about how they can be safe and prevent fires is going to have a positive effect, but it’s certainly not limited to us,” he said.
Another notable moment from last year was having a crew member and fire apparatus help fight the wildfire in Fox Creek.
“That was something different, and of course all through Alberta we had all kinds of dry conditions and wildfires going on, so that was certainly on our mind,” McLaren said. “We had a lot of departments that had to help one another out.”
Going forward, the fire crew is preparing for wildland fire season and continuing yearly training, with a focus on wildfire safety, anchor points, access to safe areas, and operating and deploying equipment safely.
“How to stay safe is the big thing, especially, in a small department, our priority is always making sure that our members are safe, and they get to go home at the end of the call,” McLaren said.
To volunteer at the fire department, call (403) 748-4348, or visit the website here.