By Kevin J. Sabo For the Advance
The volunteers of Castor Volunteer Fire Rescue have had a busy 2021 to date.
Located in East Central Alberta, the 16-member volunteer fire department averages 30 to 35 calls per year, according to Fire Chief Patrick Kelly. Unfortunately, due to the brutally dry weather and the high temperatures the region has faced, the department has seen an uptick in calls, sitting around 45 by the end of September.
“Out of the majority of calls, they were farm-related, and non-preventable in my opinion,” said Kelly in a recent interview.
“(They were farmers) just hitting a rock, everybody trying to get the last inch of crop. They were just bad luck.”
According to Kelly, the department has only responded to one, in his opinion, fire call that was preventable, a grass fire started by a cigarette butt flicked out a car window.
“Out of all our calls since January, that was our only preventable fire,” said Kelly.
“The fire started right at the edge of the road, and there was evidence of a cigarette there. It’s surprising how many people sill throw them out.”
With most modern vehicles not incorporating ashtrays into their designs anymore, Kelly urges smokers to pick up a portable ashtray which fits in a cup-holder, or even use a soda can, to try and prevent these roadside fires.
As for backyard fires, they are allowed again, but Kelly urges people to enjoy them responsibly.
“Have water available,” said Kelly.
“Extinguish the fire when you’re done.”
Other fire safety tips Kelly has going into fall include checking smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries at time change, don’t leave things in the oven unattended, and examine Christmas lights as you put them up, checking for frayed wiring, and if any is found, discard the string.
Between Jan.1 and Oct 4, when the statistics were last updated, Castor Volunteer Fire Rescue had responded to 12 motor vehicle collisions, three medical calls, 23 grass fires, three structure fires, three smoke alarms, and one other call, for a total of 45 calls and 1123 hours on scene. July alone had 17 calls, and September was busy as well, with another six calls by the end of the month. In addition to the calls, the members of the department spent 302 hours training between Jan. 1 and Oct. 4.
Fire Prevention week annually runs through the first full week of October, this year October 3-9, and the theme for this year is “learning the sounds of fire safety.” More information can be found at https://www.nfpa.org/Events/Events/Fire-Prevention-Week.