Monday, October 19, 2015

A Bit of Pelham to Help Bearskin Lake

Pelham Town Council and Welland Rotary welcome
Wayne Brown, deputy chief of Bearskin Lake First
Nation, and Larry Laviolette, Fire Safety Officer,
First Nation Fire Commissioner’s Office,
5 October 2015
How do you make the best use of a decommissioned fire truck? Despite be maintained in excellent condition and with just over 2,000 hours of operation time and 24,000 km, Provincial insurance regulations require that the Town has to decommission and replace the 1991 pumper from Pelham Fire Station #2 this year. (We planned for this and approved a new pumper in our 2015 Capital Budget.)

The Town could sell the vehicle for non-fire use. Or we could sell or donate the fire truck to communities or a
reas where less stringent insurance rules apply – in another country or areas covered by Canadian Federal regulations.

That’s where the Welland Rotary Club came in. After hearing the Town approved the purchase of a new pumper, the Club wondered whether there was a community in Central or South America that might need such a vehicle.

Then the Club heard about fires in First Nation communities in Northern Ontario. The Club made contact with Larry Laviolette, Fire Safety Officer, First Nation Fire Commissioner’s Office. Working out of Sioux Lookout, Mr. Laviolette indicated that Bearskin Lake First Nation (which is more than 400 km north) desperately needs fire equipment.

It was my pleasure to welcome and help host Wayne Brown, deputy chief of Bearskin Lake First Nation, on Monday, October 5. Deputy Chief Brown told us that while Bearskin Lake has a growing population of 900 people across four areas – airport, downtown, residential, and medical – they do not have adequate fire protection. Since they have been unable to get parts following the breakdown of a 1982 fire pumper, their community is served by a pickup truck carrying a water tank and a small pump.

In addition, Mr. Brown indicted that people access Bearskin Lake by air during the spring, summer and fall, and by an ice road during the winter. I understand this remote community gets all their building and medical supplies, non-perishable food, and fuel via that 12-hour ice road route!

Once removed from active service in November, Rotary will transport the fire pumper (via flat-bed truck) to Sioux Lookout; Mr. Laviolette will store the vehicle until February when the truck will be transported to Bearskin Lake via the ice road.
Hand-stitched moccasins presented in
appreciation to Pelham by Bearskin Lake 

Councillor John Durley, Deputy Mayor, and I presented ceremonial keys for the truck to Councillor Peter Papp, president of the Rotary Club; in turn, Councillor Papp presented the keys to Deputy Chief Brown during our October 5th Council meeting.

I am delighted that this bit of Pelham can help serve Bearskin Lake First Nation for many years. And, I hope this can be the start of a special relationship between our two communities.