By Cole Parkinson
A business owner was in M.D. council chambers to give his thanks to the councillors as well as the M.D. Fire Department for job well done.
Casey Gouw, co-owner of Gouw Quality Onions, had the chance to express his gratitude after he saw the M.D.’s fire fighters up close and personal during a large fire this summer.
“I am here to thank the M.D. for their foresight into having additional fire equipment and looking forward to having more capital expenditure spent on fire side of the M.D. What we had this year was a large hay fire that started from combustion and it was a very windy day. The response time that we had was amazing, with 10 or 12 minutes out in the furthest part of the M.D., north of Purple Springs. The loss of equipment and building was worth around $200,000 worth of stuff. We had good coverage for it, didn’t really know how much coverage I had at the time and didn’t use it for 30 years,” said Gouw.
With the way things are set up right now in regard to fire, the first four hours of the firefighting is covered but after those first four hours is up, the rest of the time it takes to combat the fire is billed. Originally it was set up for only two hours, but council decided to extend the time to four hours because they found that round trip travel time usually took up the entire covered minutes. With the fire Gouw experienced, the time required to safely combat the fire was well past the four hours.
While Gouw himself was okay with paying the bill, his insurance company was less than thrilled with having to foot the payment.
“My insurance company was the one who said ‘you should go in there and ask for forgiveness for the bill’ because the bill was for $36,000 on top of the first four hours. It was a significant bill, I didn’t argue that and I felt that my insurance company was in the wrong trying to wiggle out of paying because that’s the policy. I refused to do that because of the great response and the way the fire was handled,” said Gouw. “I felt that it was well worth the money we spent to save the fire from going further onto other people’s properties and causing additional damage. The fire wasn’t out after four hours, it was an 11 or 12 hour fire with significant risk to Wolf Island and the Hays grazing reserve or anywhere else.”
One of the other reasons Gouw went to M.D. council was to get the word out that there is a cost involved with fighting a fire.
“What I think should be said to the M.D. residents and farmers is there is a cost after the first four hours. They kind of know what they’re up against so they can also look into their insurance policy to make sure their insurance policies cover the additional costs so they don’t get sticker shock,” said Gouw. “Check out where your coverage levels are because it’s not within the realm to go up to $50,000 worth of firefighting costs on a large fire.”
As for the M.D. FD, Gouw was impressed with the amount of equipment that they possess and take to the fires around the M.D. With this year being especially dry, he was happy that they had everything they needed to be able to fight the multiple fires throughout the hot summer.
“I think they’re going in the right direction by having more fire equipment, spending more money on the fire side,” said Gouw. “With the dry years we are seeing and how many fires we’ve seen. On these dry years it’s really important to have.”