LETHBRIDGE - So far, just over a dozen municipalities have signed on to the new 2017 Southern Alberta Emergency Management Resource Sharing Agreement, compared with 44 municipalities 10-years ago.
The agreement, developed in the Fall of 2017 and presented at Monday's City Council meeting, was described by Deputy Fire Chief Dana Terry as an updated version of the 2007 agreement.
While the document itself was not presented to council, Terry said it included a new fee schedule, delegation of authority, a threshold of activation, a formalized resource request, and outlines Lethbridge's obligations should another municipality request the city's help in an emergency.
Terry also explained that it allows for cost recovery when city resources like equipment and firefighters are needed in other jurisdictions.
"What we've seen in the past few years with all of the disasters and emergencies that have happened in communities in Alberta, we see the importance, and the provincial government sees the importance, and obviously City Council sees the importance of working together. And that's what this agreement is about...is at the time of emergency, or the time of a disaster, how can we access additional resources when we need them? And so, what this does is allow us to have that formalized process."
Because the agreement is just a few months old, several communities have had questions about what's contained in it - something Terry and Emergency Preparedness Manager Luke Palmer, have been happy to answer. Northern and Central Alberta have similar agreements.
"We've got 14 right now and we hope to see that get back up to the levels that we had in 2007 with that agreement. Sometimes it's just making sure that people understand what the agreement is about, why it's been updated and then they have no issue signing back up."
During discussions, Councillor Joe Mauro asked the delegation why the Fire Department only wanted to recover costs when resources were sent to other municipalities, as opposed to making money.
"When another community is in a time of need, should we be making money on that?" said Terry. "We do want to get our costs back, because it does cost us to send people and responders out. But the whole idea is that we want to help the communities and place an additional burden on them that may be not be necessary."
He also explained that it's extremely important to have backup from neighboring towns.
"We want to help our neighbors. We've called on them to help us as well. So, we recognize the need for it and we recognize the importance of calling for help when we need it and getting it when we need it. And then on our part, to be there as a good neighbor as well."
Council voted unanimously to sign the agreement.
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