The Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department (VF/R)
Founded by a group of dedicated volunteers in 1996, the VF/R is an independent fire department operated entirely by volunteers. The Chief, Deputy Chief and Captains are appointed by the BLCA on the recommendation of the Department’s members. Housed in a spacious fire hall, built in 2000, the Department has three trucks and an excellent inventory of emergency equipment including “jaws of life”. The members undertake regular training in many kinds of emergency response and most are also qualified as first responders. In a typical year about 37% of the Department’s calls are for medical emergencies, 29% for fires, 19% for motor vehicle accidents and 15% for search and rescue and a variety of other kinds of emergency. In 2008 the Department became certified with the Fire Underwriters Survey and insurers are consequently allowed to classify residential properties in Big Lake as “semi-protected” and give substantial discounts on premiums.
As an independent Fire Department the VF/R receives no tax money and is financed by a combination of provincial gaming funds, donations and a property owners’ voluntary levy. The levy amount paid by property owners is in most cases more than offset by the reduction in insurance premiums resulting from the Department’s certification.