When disaster strikes, coming to the rescue occasionally requires all resources available, even when those resources come from different municipalities.
Accordingly, the City of St. Albert and the Town of Morinville recently signed a formal fire services agreement outlining how resources will be shared between the two municipalities in an emergency. On June 1, both parties received signed copies of the agreement — called the Mutual Assistance Agreement, according to a June 23 news release from St. Albert.
The agreement is an update to a long-standing regional arrangement between 24 Alberta municipalities, including St. Albert and Morinville. The pre-existing agreement came into force May 11, 2011, St. Albert spokesperson Alex Cunningham said in an email.
The new agreement differs from the former one in that it outlines clear steps for Morinville and St. Albert to receive assistance from one another, Cunningham said, and updates other aspects, such as potential cost recovery.
“Above all else, it demonstrates each municipality’s desire to work together, promoting the safety of our residents and the protection of property and the environment,” Cunningham said in the email.
Morinville fire chief Brad Boddez said that over the years, St. Albert and Morinville have begun to rely on each other more to fight major fires.
“Unfortunately, we’re getting a lot more fires that require that mutual aid help from larger departments like St. Albert,” Boddez said, noting St. Albert helped the town during the June 2021 church fire that destroyed St. Jean Baptiste Parish.
St. Albert has also received help from Morinville, most notably in the Citadel Mews fire in May 2021, when Morinville sent 12 members and two fire trucks to come to St. Albert’s aid.
While the agreement outlines that parties can request aid, Boddez said there is no stipulation that holds them liable if they don’t respond to the call — for example, if their resources are already in use at the time.
Additionally, Boddez said the agreement is mostly to deal with fire suppression — fighting a fire that has already started, as in the case with the church and Citadel Mews fires.
“It’s not like if we leave the station somebody’s going to backfill our station,” Boddez said. “We would just call them out to help with fire support.”
St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron said in an interview that she is pleased to see the agreement in place.
“When we had the Citadel fire, we don’t have to have five aerial trucks … because we count on our neighbours,” Heron said. “Having these kinds of agreements in place and laying out how we will compensate each other in the event of an emergency is amazing.”
Morinville Mayor Simon Boersma said in the June 23 press release that the town is “thankful to know that we can count on our regional partner to provide support.”
“This agreement, along with the recent signing of a recreation inter-municipal collaboration framework (ICF), truly benefits and strengthens both communities.”