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District FN firefighters receive training

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Seven district First Nations' firefighters recently graduated from the Six Nations fire training academy.

Fire departments from Rainy River First Nations, Naicatchewenin First Nation, Big Grassy First Nation, Eagle Lake First Nation, and Couchiching First Nation are working to improve their services in a bid to raise the number of volunteers and make their communities safer.

They sent Shawn Brown (RRFN), Elias Bird (RRFN), Don Smith (Naicatchewenin FN), Matt Smith (Naicatchewenin FN), Tyler Yatchuk (Couchiching FN), Ryan Jack (Big Grassy FN), and Sheldon Adams (Eagle Lake FN).

First Nations' people are 10 times more likely to die in a house fire in a First Nations' community than anywhere else in Ontario—and maybe even Canada.

The statistics are staggering when it comes to our people being hurt or killed in structural fires.

This statistic, and other grim realities of tragic fires, have all fire departments working to improve their services by recruiting new adequately-trained recruits.

A training program being offered by the Six Nations Fire & Emergency Service Training Academy, INAC, and the Ontario Native Firefighters Society is helping with that.

“How do we make First Nation communities fire safe?” asked Six Nations Fire Chief Matthew Miller.

“Training more First Nation firefighters is one important step.”

Six Nations welcomed 41 First Nations' firefighters from across Ontario to its community.

Some 37 of these students have graduated from the five-week intense training at the Six Nations Fire & Emergency Services Training Academy for their NFPA 1001 Level 1 & 2 Firefighter Training, as well as HazMat awareness and HazMat operations.

“Good luck to all of you and keep up the good work,” said Chief Miller.

“Nothing worth having is easily attained.”

“This training is important because it gives us a challenge to overcome,” noted Brown, who is the fire chief at RRFN.

“It has to be us, as members of these communities, to step up and make it safer for all,” he stressed.

“We are the last line of defence," echoed Yatchuk. ”We will strive to develop our skills and answer the call when needed to help those in their worst hour.

“We all have a duty to minimize the risk for our people in our communities,” he added.

“The prevention of fire is where our peoples' minds need to be.”

“Our work is not done, it is just starting. Fire prevention & awareness are key to making our jobs easier in each of our communities,” said Smith, who is the fire chief at Naicatchewenin FN.

“The importance of smoke alarms and fire escape plans needs to be shared, this will be one our tasks back in Naicatchewenin,” he noted.

“Remember, it could be your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, your kids, or any of your family members caught in a structure fire,” Smith stressed.

“Nobody knows when a fire will strike so it's always good to be prepared,” he reasoned.

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