12 Ditidaht First Nation members join fire department to protect their community

Oct 13, 2023

The 12 Ditidaht First Nation members standing in front of a fire truck with 2 FNESS staff

Photo submitted by Reo Jerome.

The Ditidaht First Nation has a large territory in the southwest area of Vancouver Island.  Nitinaht is the main community with approximately 150 homes, administration and maintenance buildings, and a few commercial businesses.

Recently, the Nation hired an Emergency Planning Coordinator, James Fothergill, who identified that this community needed some structural fire protection in order to keep their members, homes and businesses safe.  James reached out to FNESS to see what type of support we could offer and specifically wanted help in the re-establishment of a fire department.  FNESS was invited to attend a community meeting.  At the meeting, Kathy Ferguson, Fire Services Officer with FNESS, expressed to the 30+ members of the community the need for volunteers to get the fire department functioning safely again. She provided an overview of the fire training needed, funding opportunities available, and gave a short Home Fire Safety PowerPoint and fire extinguisher demonstration.

During the last week in August, Kathy and Reo Jerome, On-Call Fire Services Casuals, conducted a 4-day training session including pumper operator driving training, and some basic firefighting instruction. The community really stepped up to the plate and had 12 members come out and commit to joining the fire department and learning how to provide safe fire suppression operations in their community.

Topics covered:

  • Home Fire Safety Awareness (e.g. fire extinguishers, fire behaviour, smoke/CO2 alarms)
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Driver/Pumper Operations
  • Water Supply and Hydrant Operations
  • Hose and Water Streams

The Nitinaht Fire Department is now conducting weekly training sessions and appointing a Fire Chief and Officers.

The 4-day session was a success. The community plans to have FNESS continue to provide additional firefighting training, a Community First Aid course, Public Education Fire Safety sessions, a Fire Safety Assessment, and Leadership and Governance sessions for Chief and Council.  FNESS is also supporting the fire department in obtaining new personal protective gear and assisting in generating a list of necessary fire suppression equipment needed.

We would like to acknowledge the work and dedication of James Fothergill and each of the fire department members who are working hard to be prepared for emergencies in their community.  The entire Ditidaht First Nation should be proud of these accomplishments!

Read more about the community’s new fire department in the Ha-Shilth-Sa newspaper.