Skip to main content

Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services finding new methods to conserve water


Water is an indispensable tool for fighting fires, but lower-than-normal water levels have inspired Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services (LFES) to find ways to save on water usage.

“Our first job as firefighters is to put the fire out, to limit the damage and to save lives, and in that respect, we want to use the water efficiently,” said platoon Chief Dave Heatherington.

A residential fire requires between 2,000 and 8,000 litres of water per minute, while a large commercial fire can use upwards of 20,000 litres per minute.

It’s those high volumes that have LFES adapting to the ever-changing water levels in the Oldman River.

“Our water use with some of (our) nozzles has gone down,” Heatherington said. “We’re using a straight-stream nozzle to be more direct and point in our fire attack in, say a residential fire.”

The department is using tools like high-efficiency pumps and aerial equipment to cut back on water use.

Heatherington says they’ve also limited the cleaning of some equipment, washing of bays and fire apparatuses are only being washed once every two weeks.

LFES has moved all its training to station four, where the water can be redirected to the wastewater treatment plant rather than the storm drains that lead directly to the river.

“We have some special features here where we can divert the water from training purposes to stormwater purposes at the simple closure of a valve,” he said.

Heatherington says it’s all in an effort to cut water use for the time it's needed most.

“During our recent triple house fire that we had on the west side on Boxing Day, we used hundreds of thousands of litres of water to extinguish the three houses that were on fire,” he said.

But Heatherington says fighting grassfires and wildfires can use more water than a residential fire.

He says between that and the dry conditions, a fire ban has been put in place for the river valley.

LFES is using a proactive public education method to help reduce the risk of a fire throughout the summer and into the fall.

“It's a matter of being responsible and currently, right now, with the dry state of affairs, we have to be super observant of the fire conditions in the river bottom,” Heatherington said.

While LFES is cutting water use, Heatherington says there’s only so much crews can do to limit use without compromising training and safety needs.

“If we could stop the fires before they happen, that'll save us a lot of work,” he said.

In May, the City of Lethbridge imposed a 10 per cent water reduction for city departments. There are currently no water restrictions in place for Lethbridge. Top Stories

Latest on the Trump rally assassination attempt: Former U.S. president injured but 'fine,' shooter and attendee dead

Former U.S. president Donald Trump was the target of an apparent assassination attempt Saturday at a Pennsylvania rally, days before he was to accept the Republican nomination for a third time. A barrage of gunfire set off panic, and a bloodied Trump, who said he was shot in the ear, was surrounded by U.S. Secret Service and hurried to his SUV as he pumped his fist in a show of defiance.


opinion Why 'paying yourself first' is the key to a comfortable retirement

One of the most effective retirement savings strategies is to pay yourself first. In his personal finance column for, Christopher Liew outlines strategies for consistently saving and investing over time and building a solid nest egg.

Should you wait to buy or sell your home?

The Bank of Canada is expected to announce its key interest rate decision in less than two weeks. Last month, the bank lowered its key interest rate to 4.7 per cent, marking its first rate cut since March 2020.

Stay Connected