Fort William First Nation gets donated fire trucks (2 Photos)

This pumper truck was previously used by the Township of Leeds and Thousand Islands Fire Service (submitted photo)

FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION — The plan to establish a volunteer fire service in Fort William First Nation has taken a big step forward with a donation arranged through Firefighters Without Borders.

The organization is providing the community with a used pumper truck, a water tanker and 25 complete sets of firefighters' gear.

Arrangements are in progress to transport the vehicles to Fort William from Trenton, Ontario where they have been in storage.

Fire Prevention Officer William Solomon reached out to Firefighters Without Borders after learning about the work they do across the country.

"I was just looking for places to access donations, and I started talking to the Ontario rep. He was actively looking for us, and came across these two trucks," Solomon said in an interview Tuesday.

One of the vehicles was previously operated by the Township of Leeds and The Thousand Islands Fire Service in eastern Ontario.

When the trucks arrive, they will be parked temporarily in the Fort William First Nation's public works building until a structure is built to house them.

Equipment is only one key piece of the project, however.

Solomon is leading the effort to recruit and train a team of volunteers who will serve as first responders to supplement the community's service agreement with Thunder Bay Fire Rescue.

"We have several members that are already very interested, but once we have everything in place I'm going to put a call out to the community through our weekly newsletters, and we're going to hold an information session. We'll definitely have enough people to staff our fire department," he said.

Training will be conducted in conjunction with the pre-service firefighting program offered at Confederation College.

Solomon graduated from that program last year.

He said Fort William First Nation will apply to Indigenous Services Canada for the bulk of the funding for the structure that's required, and for additional apparatus.

Once the volunteer service is established, it's expected the response time for emergency calls in the community will achieve the objective of between four and six minutes.

The community's fire service will be able to apply water to a fire before Thunder Bay Fire Rescue is able to get its trucks to the First Nation via Highway 61.

"If a volunteer department can respond to an incident and apply agent or water to a fire before our arrival is very beneficial," Thunder Bay Acting Fire Chief Greg Hankkio has stated previously.

TBFR currently responds to about 125 calls a year from Fort William, including not just fires but incidents of all kinds.

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