Strathcona County Emergency Services has a diverse history that stems back to November 1956.
1950s and 1960s
- The first fire station was located in Fire Chief Wayne Stanyer's garage on Conifer Street in Sherwood Park. Fire emergencies were reported by calling an operator who individually telephoned volunteer members, asking them to meet at Chief Stanyer's garage.
- In February 1959, the first fire station opened on Ash Street and Alder Ave. The fire brigade's first pump was a red 625-gpm King Seagrave, mounted on a Fargo chassis.
- In January 1962, the fire brigade became the County of Strathcona Fire Department. A two-way radio system was added to improve communications.
- In 1965, the first full-time firefighter was hired and in 1966, South Cooking Lake got its first pumper-tanker which was housed in rented facility.
1970s and 1980s
- In April 1972, Strathcona County Council unanimously passed Bylaw No. 200, establishing ambulance service to be operated by the County of Strathcona Fire Department.
- In 1973, Strathcona County Council approved the establishment of the fire department division in Ardrossan. Calls were responded to out of a rented garage.
- On September 16, 1975, the full-time firefighters became certified members of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) with Local 2461.
- On October 23, 1975, Fire Station #1 on Sherwood Drive opens.
- In October 1977, Fire Station #3 in Ardrossan opens.
- In 1980, Fire Station #2 in South Cooking Lake opens.
- On April 1, 1981, Fire Station #4 in Josephburg opened.
- In September 1985, five FireFighter/EMT-Paramedics were hired; the department is now capable at providing Advanced Life Support.
- In 1985, Lieutenant/Inspector Robert Martell championed the development of public safety education for the department, which included the Sparky kindergarten program, first aid instruction and home safety visits.
- In 1986, Fire Chief Stanyer retired; Bill Hewitt was appointed Chief.
- In 1987, Strathcona County's 9-1-1 system was activated, and in July a tornado blew through the area.
1990s to 2000s
- In 1990, Fire Chief Bill Hewitt retired; David Hodgins was appointed Chief.
- In 1991, 9-1-1 caller identification was added to dispatch and Fire Station #5 opened in Sherwood Park.
- In 1991, the Strathcona Firefighters' Honour Guard made its first public appearance during the Remembrance Day ceremony.
- In 1993, Larry Spiess became the first Fire Marshal, and in 1994, Fire Chief David Hodgins retired. Laird Burton was appointed Fire Chief.
- In 1999, communication (9-1-1) operations received ISO certification.
- In 2000, emergency medical service (EMS) operations received ISO certification.
- In June 2001, the new Heartland Hall replaced the older Fire Station #4 in Josephburg.
- During the summer of 2002, a fire ban was issued in Strathcona County as it was deemed the driest summer in 20 years. Later that summer, Larry Spiess retired as the Fire Marshal and Dale Miller took on the Fire Marshal role.
- On October 18, 2002 the Honour Guard unveiled and dedicated the Strathcona Fallen Fire Fighters' Memorial at Fire Station #1.
- On October 15, 2004, the Honour Guard announced the formation of the Strathcona Fallen Fire Fighters' Memorial Foundation - a non-profit organization designed to provide scholarships and trust funds to the children of fallen police, fire and emergency medical service personnel in the geographic area.
- In 2004, rescue operations received ISO certification.
- In 2006, Fire Chief Laird Burton retired. Dwight Osbaldeston was appointed Fire Chief; retired in late 2007.
- In 2006, fire operations received ISO certification.
- In 2008, Darrell Reid was appointed Fire Chief. In May of that year, Strathcona County saw its largest fire in 20 years (in north Strathcona County).
- On April 1, 2009, the Province took over ambulance service; however Strathcona County Emergency Services negotiated with the province to provide contract services.
- In May 2009, Strathcona County saw its second large-scale forest fire in north Strathcona within two years.
- In June 2009, Strathcona County declared its first fire ban since 2002. On June 30, the County declared a State of Local Drought Emergency.
- In December 2009, the construction of Fire Station #6 was approved by County Council.
2010s to present
- In January 2010, the Strathcona County Emergency Management Agency was created to update and revise the Municipal Emergency Management Plan.
- In May 2011, two Incident Management teams and operational staff were deployed to Slave Lake, Alberta in response to their disaster.
- The sod turning event for Fire Station #6 in Sherwood Park took place on December 16, 2011.
- In May 2012, the department published its first department wide Business Plan.
- In April 2013, the department achieved Superior Tanker Shuttle Accreditation. Over 2,200 letters are sent to homeowners, advising them that they may qualify for reduced fire insurance rates.
- On May 15, 2013, Fire Station #6 opened its doors.
In June 2013 a number of resources were deployed to Southern Alberta to assist with the response and recovery from flooding. Two speciality teams and Strathcona County’s Incident Management Team.The Incident Management Team working closely with community leaders, local, provincial and national emergency personnel and managers to help mitigate the evolving emergency. The Water Rescue Team saved 73 people and 17 pets who were trapped in their homes and the Technical Rescue members spent many days evaluating and shoring up damaged houses and buildings in the stricken community.
Ambulance dispatching was transitioned to Alberta Health Services's centralized dispatching location on July 25, 2013. SCES continues to dispatch for fire emergencies and remains a Public Service Answering Point (PSAP).
- On November 8, 2013 Fire Chief Darrell Reid resigned and on December 11, 2013, Iain Bushell is appointed Fire Chief.
- The Strathcona County Alert system was introduced on January 14, 2014. The purpose of this mass notification system is to send out emergent, significant and time-sensitive alerts affecting Strathcona County. Over 950 people signed up to receive alerts within the first two weeks of the launch.
- In January 2014, all administration staff moved to Station 6, which is now considered headquarters for Emergency Services.
- In January 2015, the Critical Incident Stress Management Team (department Peer Support Team) is launched.
- On May 3, 2016, an Incident Management Team and firefighting task force leaves for Fort McMurray in response to the wildfire disaster. SCES supports the response activities for the next 22 days as part of a mutual aid agreement.
- In November 2016, Strathcona County is awarded the prestigious Alberta Emergency Management Agency Achievement Award in the category of Fostering Partnerships. This award recognizes the contributions made by Strathcona County towards building a better prepared and more disaster resilient community.
- In May 2017, Fire Chief Iain Bushell resigns and moves to Scotland to become their new Deputy Chief. In October 2017, Dan Lemieux is appointed Fire Chief.
- In May 2018, a large wildfire burned 680 hectares in the north area of Strathcona County. Crews worked for almost one month to extinguish all the hotspots.
- In June 2018, Chief Lemieux resigns. In October 2018, Jeff Hutton is appointed Fire Chief.
- In October 2018 the Strathcona Fire Pipe and Drum band forms with 27 members including 19 pipers and 8 drummers.
- On December 4, 2018, Emergency Services' ambulance service receives accreditation with commendation from Accreditation Canada.
- March 2020, Emergency Services leads the County's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In May 2022, Chief Hutton retires.
- September 2022, the department celebrates the 20th year of the Strathcona Fallen Fire Fighters' Memorial.
- On September 12, 2022 Martin Paulson is appointed as the 10th Fire Chief of Emergency Services.
Bibliography: Facts provided by past and present members of Strathcona County Emergency Services, and the Strathcona County Museum and Archives.
Check out the Strathcona County Museum and Archives for more stories and actual artifacts from the early days of Sherwood Park's first fire hall.