When John Kokotilo speaks about being the Regional Fire Chief for Lac La Biche County, it is very apparent that he takes pride in his team and their work. However, it may surprise you that there is much more to his job than first comes to mind.
SIX COUNTY FIRE STATIONS
There are five districts and six fire stations around the County, including 2 in Lac La Biche and others located in Plamondon, Hylo, Rich Lake, and Owl River. As Manager of Protective Services and Regional Fire Chief, Kokotilo oversees the Fire Services Division, the Fire Smart Program, the Disaster Services Division, the Safety Codes division, Emergency Management, and up to 75 paid, on-call firefighters. Underlying all these responsibilities is a commitment to public education and communication about all the above.
BE FIRE SMART
Free home or business fire safety consultation is a critical part of the work done by Protective Services. John is especially proud of the local FireSmart program, which was recognized nationally with an award in 2018. The program provides free home assessments and wood chipping services and sells sprinkler protection kits to residents wanting to increase the protection of their property from wildfire. Some insurance companies offer a discount for property owners who have taken advantage of the program.
Of course, all of this is important to the safety and well-being of everyone in the Lac La Biche region, but it can also be important to your budget. Recently a few citizens in the rural parts of the County pointed out that their home insurance rates increased due to a perceived distance to the nearest fire station. Unfortunately, the nearest fire station was not to be found on Google Maps. John and his team moved quickly to work with the County’s Geographic Information Systems group to update the map and ultimately help these folks save some hard-earned dollars on their insurance premiums. Kokotilo points out that the issue is not quite as simple as putting our fire stations on Google Maps. Other factors, including workforce, proximity to hydrants, and equipment available, are all part of the formula used by fire insurance underwriters.
Kokotilo invites anyone who has questions related to home or business fire safety, the FireSmart Program, or even issues that may affect home insurance premiums to call 780-623-6774 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.