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On the morning of Sunday, January 7, delicious smells were permeating out of the Whitecourt Firehall as Crew 4 cooked up an amazing feast for the monthly Association Breakfast. Staff and crew, and their families enjoyed the meal, digging into piles of delicious pancakes, eggs, hash browns, and a mountain of bacon.
Sheri Pritchard, administrator and volunteer fire fighter, said the monthly event is usually a breakfast in the winter and a barbecue in the summer months. “The reasons why we do it is, firstly, to discuss a little bit about safety for the families and the conditions outside and, secondly, to get together with all the family members.” They also usually invite the RCMP and EMS and their families. “If they can make it, then they join because we consider them part of the department and our family.”
With 50 volunteers on the local department, the group meals can be quite big events. “Not everybody can always make it but it’s a great time.” When asked what the best part was about getting everybody together for a meal, Sheri couldn’t help herself. “Bacon and the rest of the food,” she said with a laugh. “It’s truly about getting to meet the fire department’s family because we don’t always get to interact with them. It’s good to be on a nice relaxed level, have fun, and visit together.”
Next month, the crew is planning an outdoor event for the Family Day weekend on February 18. “We’re going to have it at Dahl Drive hill and we’re going to do some tobogganing and build a fire. We’ll have to make sure the EMS crew comes to that one, just in case, and maybe the RCMP, too, because I don’t know if there is a speeding limit on the hill, laughed Sheri.”
Safety wise, Sheri says the crew talked about carbon monoxide this month as over the last couple weeks there have been several calls including one with very high levels. “We have had quite a few carbon monoxide alarms and not just false alarms. The levels are poisoning the air within homes. With the cold weather, your air intake can freeze off another line outside your home which means it doesn’t have an escape and it builds up in the house.”
Last month, Sheri said there was a close call. “One was a really high reading and if they hadn’t had an alarm, they probably would not be here today.” Another important thing to remember, especially when the temperature drops, is to be mindful of where you place your space heaters. “The key word is space. Make sure you have three feet of space around the space heater.” Sheri recommends using a heater with an automatic shut off, if possible, because they are made to shut off if bumped. Safety first!