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Sam Macdonald photo
Sam Macdonald photo
Ashmont Fire Department Chief James Preston (center) "cuts" the ribbon with a blowtorch to mark the official opening of the new fire hall, with the assistance of County of St. Paul Reeve Steve Upham(left), and Coun. Frank Sloan.
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Ashmont gets fired up over new fire hall

Jul 08, 2014 12:00 pm | Sam Macdonald

Near the intersection of Hwy 28 and 36, a new steel structure stands to the north of the busy roads, sitting on the outer edge of Ashmont. The building is one that is a source of pride for the people of Ashmont and the County of St. Paul.

The official opening of the new Ashmont Fire Hall was held on June 28 and included community members, dignitaries and fire fighters from all around the counties of St. Paul and Smoky Lake.

“It’s a big change for sure. We were tight for space in our old fire hall, and had to park the ranger at one of our members’ houses in the winter so it had cover from the snow. It’s nice to bring the community together in the hall, for this opportunity to show it off,” said Ashmont Fire Chief James Preston.

The new five-bay fire hall is a 6,000 square foot building that can accommodate all the fire department’s vehicles and equipment with room to spare.

“Maybe the shiny new building will move people to join (the department). I’m sure it’ll get people’s attention, and we might see an increase in recruitment,” said Preston.

The official opening featured a ribbon burning rather than a ribbon cutting, with Preston using a blowtorch on a ribbon tied across one of the bay doors.

Guests were treated to a barbecue and tours of the facility with all the trucks and equipment on display, while children played games and activities to keep them entertained.

At the event, members of the Ashmont Fire Department were presented with honourary plaques from County of St. Paul Reeve Steve Upham, and County of Smoky Lake Councillors Ron Bobocel and Craig Lukinuk. Members had also received a plaque from the Vilna Fire Department prior to the event.

“This is a great day, and a great occasion. The community volunteers with the fire department work hard on a daily basis. Covering the cost of this new fire hall is a small, but significant way to show our support as ratepayers,” said Upham. “Giving them the tools and infrastructure to do their job is a good way to show the community is behind them, and their efforts are appreciated.”

Preston, in a short speech, said the fire department has been working out of the new hall since April, having “outgrown the old one in the confines of the hamlet.”

“With more calls and traffic in the area, we’re all aware of the new workload that gets put on us. The county helped us achieve this, and helped get us the stuff we need to get the job done,” he added.

County of St. Paul Coun. Frank Sloan, who lives in the Ashmont area, along Highway 28, said, “Ashmont’s fire department covers a large area, with agreements with other municipalities . . . When you start the budgets, it takes work, talking, and persuasion to get something like this established. Now that the fire hall is done, it looks like it was a good move.”

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