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Fire chiefs meet to confront budget, recruitment challenges

Fire chiefs from across Alberta are meeting in Red Deer over the next five days to confront budget and recruitment challenges.

Some rural communities have trouble retaining and recruiting new members

Alberta fire chiefs are meeting in Red Deer this week to confront the challenges facing their forces. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Fire chiefs from across Alberta are meeting in Red Deer over the next five days to confront challenges facing their forces.

The conference's main focus is on how forces can deal with ever-shrinking budgets. It will also look at the challenges smaller communities face in recruiting and retaining new hires.

"We're introducing various recommendations on how to enhance and how to bring up your numbers in these small rural departments," said Bill Purdy, executive director of the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association.

It's important that smaller communities are able to attract enough staff to protect their communities, he said.

This is the 66th year of the conference, which also features a trade show and educational sessions.

Organizers say it gives chiefs a valuable opportunity to come together and compare experiences.

"This conference gives our members an opportunity to share the challenges their departments are facing and together find ways to address the risks that we all face as a result of these challenges," said Brian Cornforth, president of the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association.

"The only way for us to effectively address these challenges is through collaboration."

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