With a new fire hall in the final stages of construction, the Hay River Fire Department held its last open house in its current location for this year’s Fire Prevention Week.
“It’s going to be really nice to get into the new hall,” said Fire Chief Ross Potter, turned project manager for the building under construction. “It’s going to be huge for fire prevention education. We’re going to be proud to bring the community into the new building and there will be lots more teaching areas suitable for all kinds of learning.”
Not that still being in the old hall stopped community members from coming out to the open house on Oct. 6.
This year’s theme focused on reducing the prevalence of kitchen fires, one of the most common causes of household blazes, according to Potter.
“We think it is an extremely important topic as we in Hay River have experienced a number of them over the past few years,” he said. “Most of these were unattended cooking, people falling asleep while cooking, people forgetting that they had something on the stove, and others where towels and other items were left way too close to the burners on the stove. Thankfully, most of these fires were detected and reported early, so we were able to extinguish them before much damage was done.”
With all the fire department’s vehicles parked on display in the yard and activities for the children on hand, many Hay Riverites came out to see what it was all about.
“My favourite part was putting out the fire,” said Ethan Harris, just having come from hosing down a simulated kitchen fire controlled by a nearby firefighter.
His sister Miah Harris also got a turn at putting out the fire, but said she was also impressed by the firefighters in full gear who had come to speak at Harry Camsell School earlier in the week.
“He sounded like Darth Vader,” she said, adding she had learned to not jump out a high window in case of a fire.
The members of the Hay River Fire Department on hand seemed to be enjoying the open house, as well.
“This is what this job is all about,” said Joe Robertson. “This afternoon’s open house is a little bit of education and a little bit of entertainment, and seeing the kids out having a good time is just the best.”
The Hay River Fire Department is currently comprised of 29 volunteer members, who handle fire and rescue services to Hay River as well as recue and ambulance services for about 800 km of NWT highway.
According to the fire chief’s latest report to town council, the department responded to a total of 105 medevacs, 128 medical emergencies, 17 active fires and 24 false alarms since the beginning of 2013.
Firefighters have also completed a combined total of 680 hours of specialty training in courses, such as emergency medical response, fire service instruction, and search and rescue management on top of regular meetings and training.
Potter said that, as a whole, the department has invested about 3,700 hours – as of Sept. 24 – into fire and ambulance activities in 2013.
— Sarah Ladik