For many years the RM has had joint fire agreements with both the Town of Qu’Appelle and the Village of McLean. The fire hall buildings are located in the urban communities and the RM has been paying 50% of both of the community building’s operation expenses, one RM truck (maintained 100% by the RM) is housed in each of these buildings.
This joint agreement has a joint committee made up of members from each of the municipal councils. When the time came to update the very out dated fees, (as costs to operate emergency services have increased considerably) significant issues and concerns surfaced among the municipal representatives. Suggested increases would have resulted in very high costs to ratepayers for responses to small fires and incredulous costs to large fires. In order for ratepayers to insure themselves for enough firefighting insurance the increase to annual premiums would be significant. (Amounts differ amongst insurance providers, however an example of just one – $10 additional for every $1000 of firefighting insurance). The old cap (maximum charge to a ratepayer) was $5000, this was increased to $10,000, then to $25,000 (amongst all responding departments, meaning if 2 or more departments were called in (as often happens in large fires) the fees would be divided equally based on responding units up to the maximum. The most recent proposal is suggesting that the maximum charge would be changed to be for each responding department. Also the basic call out fee, which has increased from $500 to $1500, used to include up to 1 full hour of response time and then a per unit fee of $500 per hour after the first hour, is charged. Now it costs $1500 basic call out fee plus $500 for each responding unit from the moment they leave the fire hall equaling up to $3000 for any amount of time up to the first hour, then $500 per hour per unit after that. Another concerning charge proposed to be added is that ditch fires that are started of unknown origin (i.e.: someone flicks a cigarette out their vehicle window) would be billed to the landowner the fire was adjacent to. As this is no fault of the landowner, the RM feels that no one should be charged in this instance, if the fire originated in an RM ditch, the RM would pay the Fireman hours and if on the Town property the Town would pay only the Fireman hours. The RM of South Qu’Appelle Council felt that these increased costs to our ratepayers individually as well as the added operational requests were growing and growing and we had no other option for fire suppression, as all we owned ourselves, were two trucks.
Therefore after many hours of research, discussions and deliberations over the past year the RM Council has come to a decision that to own and operate our own Volunteer Emergency Department is more fiscally responsible to our ratepayers. We have worked closely with the Village of McLean to come to an agreement to utilize all existing emergency vehicles and equipment, as well as provide a piece of land to build the new building on, in return for fire protection services. The First Responder portion of emergency services in our province is regulated and managed by the Saskatchewan Health Authority. The First Responders from McLean will continue to operate as usual and have a space within the new building. This will be the Rural Municipality of South Qu’Appelle #157 Emergency Services. The RM also realizes it encompasses a large geographical area and in order to provide the required Municipal Act’s fire suppression service, we are entering into Fire Suppression mutual aid agreements with many surrounding municipalities, that we believe in the long run, will provide for a future of quality and fiscally responsible fire suppression service to all ratepayers within the RM of South Qu’Appelle.
If you require more detailed information please feel free to contact the RM Office for any information of public record.