Base firefighters assist First Nations’ fire safety program

Members of the B.C. First Nations Services Society (FNESS) work to perform an exterior attack on a live fire simulator (not pictured) on June 4 at the Archie Browning Sports Centre. Photos by LS Alex Ilareguy

Members of the B.C. First Nations Services Society (FNESS) work to perform an exterior attack on a live fire simulator (not pictured) on June 4 at the Archie Browning Sports Centre. Photos by LS Alex Ilareguy

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

CFB Esquimalt Fire and Rescue Services went on the road last week with their fire extinguisher training to educate members of the B.C. First Nations Emergency Services Society (FNESS) on fire safety.

On Monday, behind the Archie Browning Sports Centre, Fire Prevention Officers Jason Humphries and Ed Blaney delivered fire extinguisher training sessions to approximately 50 members of the FNESS who were in Victoria for their annual Fire Safety Expo.

The aim of FNESS is to deliver fire prevention training and resources to all of B.C.’s 203 First Nations communities, many of which are in isolated areas of the province and do not have their own fire departments.

“Since we don’t often get a chance to reach out to other groups in other communities, we loved the experience,” said Humphries. “The members we were instructing already had a solid base of fire-fighting knowledge, but our hope was they could learn something different from our programs and different ways of doing things.”

FNESS was founded in 1986 as a grass roots organization with a goal of creating safer and healthier First Nations communities through its network of experienced full-time and volunteer fire fighters. The mandate of FNESS includes delivery of emergency planning, training response and recovery; fire training, education and prevention; forest fuel and wildfire management expertise, and the distribution of equipment and resources such as fire extinguishers and fire boxes.

Emerson Adoph, a volunteer fire fighter originally from Xaxli’p First Nation, located near Lillooet, B.C., has been involved with FNESS since 2005. He says the FNESS program has gone a long way in addressing a history of fire safety concerns, fatalities and injuries in First Nations communities.

“There is an urgent need that is being addressed to improve the overall safety of people living in aboriginal communities through the delivery of programs and safety equipment,” said Adolph.

Last week’s four day expo also included equipment and technical assistance from members of Indigenous Services Canada, First Nations Services Society of B.C., Justice Institute of B.C., Office of the Fire Commissioner (B.C.), Fortis B.C., the Canadian Red Cross and Emergency Management B.C.

Activities included a First Nations firefighter skills competition; extinguisher training, sprinkler protection, Fire Smart Canada training, and natural gas safety instruction and drills.

For more information about FNESS visit their website: www.fness.bc.ca

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