After what have been a couple of tumultuous years for Castor Volunteer Fire Rescue, things are slowly getting back to normal.
First, things were complicated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. The pandemic resulted in a drastic slowdown of training and a change to the way things were being done.
Then there was the tragedy early in 2022 which claimed the life of firefighter Stephen Rayfield and injured fire Chief Patrick Kelly.
Throw in the retirement of some long-serving members, whom were honoured at the last fire department meeting on Sept. 27 where they were award their provincial service pins, and it is safe to say that the dynamic at the Castor fire hall is different than it once was.
“We’ve got two new members,” said Kelly. “That helps.”
Despite the new faces at the Castor fire hall, Kelly says that with the larger facilities in their new fire hall at the edge of town the department is able to take on more members and people able to respond during the day are especially needed.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the department is encouraged to reach out to any of the volunteer members or stop O.K. Tire and chat with Chief Kelly.
In addition to the new faces, the department will soon be running some new equipment.
The County of Paintearth recently approved the purchase of a new water truck to replace the one lost in the February accident, and during the Sept. 27 presentation Mayor Richard Elhard and chief administrative officer Christopher Robblee announced that the town is putting $100,000 towards the purchase of a new rescue unit.
According to Kelly, the assets are appreciated as the department remains fairly steady with calls.
To date in 2022, there has been 34 call outs for the department resulting in 478 man-hours on scene. The service has responded to seven motor vehicle collisions, 15 medical calls, four alarm calls, and eight fires including a combine that sparked when it hit a rock.
“We’re doing more medical first-responder calls due to ambulances not being readily available,” said Kelly.
While not trained as highly as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) crews who operate ambulances, some members of Castor Volunteer Fire Rescue are trained as Medical First Responders, which has its own scope of practise and skills which can be used to stabilize patients until the ambulance arrives.
The main thing Kelly wants to pass on for Fire Prevention Week 2022?
“Call 911, not the fire department,” said Kelly.
Kelly noted that by calling the fire department, or himself, directly, the response can be delayed by minutes which could be the difference between rescue and tragedy.
Instead, Kelly says to call 911, and give the dispatcher as many details as possible to ensure everyone responding gets proper, and accurate, information.
“The more information forwarded to dispatch, the better prepared we are,” said Kelly.
Fire Prevention Week in 2022 takes place from Oct. 9 to 15 and has the theme of “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.”
According to Kelly, Fire Prevention Week is a good time to review the home’s fire safety plan with children, make sure a safe spot is picked out to meet up in case of a fire and ensure your home’s smoke detectors are functioning.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association website, Fire Safety Week is observed the week of Oct. 9 as a tribute to the Chicago Fire of 1871. The fire, which began Oct. 8, 1871, killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 peoplehomeless, destroyed 17,400 structures, and burned 2,000 acres of land.