City to donate fire truck to First Nation community

Posted on Wednesday March 27, 2019
City donates fire truck to northern First Nation community

A fire truck the City of St. Catharines is donating to a northern First Nation community is on the road to its new home.

Last November, St. Catharines City Council authorized St. Catharines Fire and Emergency Services to donate the fire truck the City recently took out of service to Lac Seul First Nation when the City’s new fire truck was put into service. Two St. Catharines firefighters, Captain Kevin Beamer and Firefighter Greg Clark, volunteered to make the 2,000-kilometre road trip to deliver the fire truck to the Northern Ontario community and left early this morning (Wednesday, March 27).

The City is working with Firefighters Without Borders, a non-profit organization that works with communities to address their needs relating to fire safety, to complete the donation.

“The City of St. Catharines is proud to support Lac Seul First Nation in this way,” said Mayor Walter Sendzik. “This is just one example of the ways that cities can be a partner in supporting truth and reconciliation – through building relationships and working together. Thank you to the leadership of our Fire and Emergency Services department and Firefighters Without Borders for making it happen.”

Lac Seul First Nation is located in northern Ontario, about 40 kilometres west of Sioux Lookout and 56 km north-east of Dryden. Known as Obishikokaang in the Anishinaabe language, Lac Seul First Nation is a community made up of three distinct settlements: Kejick Bay, Whitefish Bay, and Frenchman’s Head. About 830 people live on the reserve. The fire truck, a 2003 Freightliner, will be a welcome addition to Lac Seul First Nation’s fire department. Lac Seul does not own its own fire truck.

It will take approximately 20 hours to drive from St. Catharines to Lac Seul First Nation. The firefighters have made arrangements to stop in Wawa, ON overnight with the fire truck secured in a municipal building on Wednesday night. The firefighters will complete their journey on Thursday.

The 2003 Freightliner is a pumper / rescue truck that pumps 1,250 gallons per minute, is equipped with a 600-gallon water tank, and seats four. While the fire truck no longer meets the needs of the St. Catharines fire service, Acting Fire Chief Jeff McCormick said the truck is still in good condition and will serve Lac Seul First Nation well.

“Many northern First Nation leaders have sounded the alarm their communities need to upgrade their firefighting equipment but just don’t have the means to do so,” said the acting fire chief, adding a delegation from Lac Seul First Nation stopped by St. Catharines to see the truck earlier this month.

“Lac Seul’s firefighters can use this fire truck to improve their response to emergencies. We are fortunate to have an opportunity to help our brother and sister firefighters protect their community.”

Before leaving St. Catharines, Firefighters Without Borders outfitted the donated truck with hoses, nozzles and other equipment, such as a ladder, pike poles and tripod lighting. Firefighters Without Borders is also providing Lac Seul firefighters with 20 sets of firefighting gear, including winter parkas, bunker coats and pants, boots, helmets, gloves, work shirts and work pants. Beamer and Clark will train Lac Seul firefighters on how to operate and maintain the donated fire truck before returning Saturday.

“Firefighters Without Borders is pleased to partner with the City of St. Catharines and Lac Seul First Nation to provide much needed assistance to help improve fire safety in the northern First Nation community of Lac Seul,” said Russell Chalmers, president of Firefighters Without Borders.

Firefighters Without Borders states recent federal studies have shown that residents of First Nation communities are ten times as likely to die in a house fire than those people living in the rest of Canada and recognize the leadership shown by the City of St. Catharines to help to address the dire fire safety needs that exist in First Nations’ communities.

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