Above: Ribbon cutting with Pat Maloney, Sturgeon County Fire Chief and Manager of Protective Services, Mayor Tom Flynn and Sturgeon County CAO Peter Tarnawsky. – Lucie Roy Photo
by Lucie Roy
Morinville News Correspondent
A year and a day after breaking ground on the Sturgeon County Protective Services Headquarters (PSHQ) at 54509 Range Road 252, the County officially opened the facility with a ribbon cutting ceremony and room dedication to Namao’s first fire chief, Ted Suranyi. Sturgeon County Fire Chief and Manager of Protective Services, Pat Mahoney served as the master of ceremonies for the event. He was joined by Mayor Tom Flynn, Sturgeon County CAO Peter Tarnawsky, and Fire Chief Ted Suranyi. Approximately 100 came out to the event.
The new Protective Services Headquarters came out of a significant Emergency Service Review, which had a particular focus on the Sturgeon Industrial Park, and the County’s readiness to support Industrial Growth in the Sturgeon Heartland Area.
Tarnawsky praised Sturgeon County’s Fire capability in Namao and Calahoo, as well as their cooperation with the Towns of Legal, Morinville, Bon Accord, Gibbons and Redwater Fire Services as something that had long been held up as an example of a high functioning virtual Regional Fire service.”
“This fire hall and Protective Service Headquarters is foundational,” Tarnawsky said. “Its proximity to the Sturgeon Valley, our single highest area of population and projected population growth, is no coincidence. Its placement at what amounts to the crossroads of access to Highway 37, Highway 2, Highway 44, Highway 28, Highway 28A and Highway 825 was deliberate.”
While the County’s Cadet Program has stemmed the decline in daytime firefighters, Tarnawsky said the growth in residential and industrial properties in Sturgeon County commanded expansion of the County’s fire service. The County has hired four full-time daytime firefighters in the past four years to complement their existing three Fire Service Officers. Council also authorized one additional peace officer in 2016 to address the growing demands for service and area where requests for service more than doubled since 2011.
The decision to maintain the identity of the Namao Fire Hall is something Tarnawsky said was a sincere nod to the Sturgeon Proud history of the men and women that started and delivered service under the District of Namao banner, within the County’s regional context.
Mayor Tom Flynn was also on hand for the ribbon cutting and said the new headquarters was a step forward in Sturgeon County growth and the growth of their Protective Services.
“It’s so important for all of our safety and security,” he said. “It becomes a home base for our emergency services, our enforcement services and home of the Namao fire department.”
Flynn addressed the isolated location of the facility saying the process was started by the previous Council who selected the site for a number of reasons.
“Right now it looks like we have a fire hall built out in the middle of a country road, but we have to think, 20, 30, 40 50 years ahead and what might transpire around us,” Flynn said. “Alberta Transportation has told us in the future that access to Highway 37 from Starkey Road will not continue. I don’t know when. So it services the Highways which is 60 to 70 per cent of the responses we take care of.
Flynn said the new headquarters location will let County firefighters respond quicker to calls supporting other fire departments.
“It is going to be a better response time, daytime, weekday to the residents of Sturgeon Valley because there will be people here that can jump in a truck and be rolling in a couple of minutes,” Flynn said. “So the response time in this area will improve.”
Fire Chief and Manager of Protective Services Pat Mahoney said when the building was designed they wanted to remember the old fire hall and what it meant. That legacy was preserved with a room dedication.
“Without Chief Suranyi contributions and hard work there may have never been a Namao Fire Department,” Mahoney said. “This acknowledgement hangs on the outside of the Suranyi room in this building. Chief Suranyi was the co-founder and first chief of the Namao Fire Department.”
The June 11 opening of the headquarters coincided with the funeral of Redwater Firefighter Lt. Kenneth Goss, who was killed in an industrial accident June 2. Mahoney said Sturgeon County Councillor Karen Shaw and several County firefighters attended the funeral.