Fighting the Interface Fire
Jamie Coutts, Fire Chief, Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service
In this Session Jamie will share his experiences & take aways from being in in a Leadership role during the May of 2011 Flattop Complex Fire that burned down 40 % of the Town of Slave Lake, and over 50 homes over 45 kilometers in the MD of Lesser Slave River, and the Sawridge First Nation Reserve.
Jamie Coutts has lived in Slave Lake for 36, out of the 45 years he has been alive. He has been with the Slave Lake Fire Department for 27 years, with a one year leave of absence for a term at the Alberta Fire Training School in Vermilion, Ab. His full time experience in Slave Lake consists of 2 years in a fire prevention contract, one year away in Vermilion, 4 years as deputy chief, operations, and 9 years as regional fire chief. In 2003 the Town of Slave Lake, and MD 124 Lesser Slave River amalgamated their fire services into the Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service, He was there at the start of that, and continues to act as fire chief for this regional fire service today.
The area that Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service is responsible for is 10, 490 square kilometers, which serves about 9500 full time residents, they also have considerable natural resources in the area including oil, gas, lumber, tourism and these industries can count for thousands more people during the year. The regional fire service consists of five halls with 125 volunteer firefighters, and nine full time staff, and is managed by the Town of Slave Lake on a contract basis.
During May of 2011 the Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service was part of the Flattop Complex Fire that burned down 40 % of the Town of Slave Lake, and over 50 homes over 45 kilometers in the MD of Lesser Slave River, and the Sawridge First Nation Reserve. The Fire service fought while that happened, after the fire was out, and continue to this day. Jamie admits It was the scariest, most unbelievable, proudest days of his life. In May of 2016 the Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service were called to help when the forest fire hit the City of Fort McMurray where 95, 000 people were evacuated and over 1000 homes burned. He can recall so many eerie similarities and lessons that had, and had not been learned that it shocks him to this day. The lessons learned have been significant, and He and the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Fire Service continue to help their communities and others by sharing what they have learned in these processes.