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Volunteer firefighters from across Canada gather in Sask. for indigenous-led fire safety conference

A four-day conference in Prince Albert aimed at teaching fire prevention and safety helped prepare volunteers for what they might face in the field. 

The 2022 Fire Safety Conference and National Firefighting Competition is hosted by the Saskatchewan First Nations Emergency Management and co-hosted by the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council, the Canadian Volunteer Fire Services Association, and Indigenous Services Canada.

Blaine Wiggins, Senior Director of Indigenous Fire Marshall Service, said there were many challenges First Nations communities face when it comes to fire prevention.

“Each province has a Fire Prevention Act but they’re not applicable on reserve. There’s no required building codes. There are policies for building codes for funding from the federal government but no enforcement, no standard of building codes, no safety codes,” said Wiggins.

“So when the fire department comes and does a safety inspection, that just doesn’t happen on First Nations communities.”

Wiggins said this conference will help address fire safety issues in the community by having the volunteers train with firefighters and help with fire prevention more than fire suppression.

“Because of the nature of indigenous fire service, they’re volunteers so this is one of the few opportunities that they get to come and participate in professional development – addressing issues within the community, doing some training.”

Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte of the Prince Albert Grand Council highlighted the significance of this event to First Nations.

“It’s a very important part of, like I said, community safety and also public safety in the communities in that prevention with structural fires, house fires. And also when there is a fire, that the volunteer firefighters respond quickly,” said Hardlotte.

The conference will end on Saturday, October 1st, with a firefighting competition that has been happening for more than a decade.

The winning team will have their names put on the national trophy. Top Stories

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