MEDICINE HAT, AB – After a year and a half of negotiations, the fire service agreement between Cypress County and the City of Medicine Hat has finally been approved.
On Tuesday evening, Medicine Hat Council voted to ratify the document, which will see the City and County share trucks and crews during large scale emergency calls.
Cypress County was the first to accept the agreement and needed the City to sign off, as they’ll go with a fixed cost system rather than a pay for service model.
This comes after years of debate as Cypress County looked to become more independent in their fire response, terminating their previous contract with the City last year.
Fees to the County will cost $286,300 in 2019, with that total shrinking to $73,000 the following year.
Medicine Hat Mayor Ted Clugston said both municipalities will benefit from the new deal.
“I think we’re both happy on each side,” said Clugston. “We serve about 30 percent of their residents now and it’s cooperation, who’s to say we won’t call on the County at some point as well. So, it’s just good to work with your neighbours.”
It’s been a big year for fire services for the County, as they opened the Dunmore Fire Station in January and are in the first year of a new three-year 911 services contract with the City.
Clugston said it was necessary to have a fixed cost system in place with the County as they have to account for their crews and equipment waiting for calls.
“One of the major costs of providing a fire service is having all that capital and man power sitting, but always in a constant state of readiness, ready to go,” he said. “And, that’s really where the costs are. So, we said we have a massive fixed cost to maintain our fire response, so we needed to have a fixed payment from them.”
The memorandum of understanding between the two municipalities will run until March 31, 2020.
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