Aboriginal Firefighters Descend On Prince Albert

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 at 13:47



A fire control officer from northern Alberta says he’s glad to be taking in this week’s Indigenous Peoples Firefighting Summit in Prince Albert.


The three-day event, hosted by the Montreal Lake Cree Nation, is aimed at improving relationships and networking opportunities between First Nations firefighters, industry and government.


Roland Bull says the chance to talk with other fire officials is valuable, as all of them face similar challenges.


Bull, who hails from Whitefish-Goodfish Lake, says regulations are one item that seem to be getting increasingly complicated for First Nations fire departments.


He says fire fighters from his reserve need certification to operate something as basic as a chainsaw.


Bull notes liability is a huge concern for governments right now and that’s why he feels they are so hesitant to give First Nations departments approval for anything.


He says environmental and safety concerns also play into the mix.


Jason Beatty is the chief of the fire department for the Ermineskin band, a reserve south of Edmonton.


He says it takes a lot of work to set up a fire department on reserve, but the results can be well worth the effort.


Beatty says the department handles all fire emergencies — including structural rescues, ice rescues, vehicle extractions and medical assistance.


He adds he is happy to be at the conference, and values the information it provides.