FIRST NATIONS FIRE SAFETY:
KWANLIN DÜN FIRST NATION IN THE YUKON TERRITORY
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BY Cori Marshall
Last week WaterToday reported on the fire safety situation in Opitciwan, a First Nation in Québec. The community has the population to support a fire department, yet due to a lack of government funding approximately 3 thousand people are served by 8 firefighters. The situation experienced in Opitciwan is due in part to remoteness as any relief from other fire services is a three-hour drive away.
Not all First Nation communities are in a situation like the above mentioned one. Communities situated near or in urban areas live another experience altogether. Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN), in the Yukon, is one such community.
Christopher Madden, Communications Manager for Kwanlin Dün, explained that the community's "government offices and rental housing units are all located within the City of Whitehorse." The situation of the community makes it unnecessary to operate its own fire service as it has "full access to all city services, including the municipal fire department."
Madden said that the "KDFN is satisfied with the levels of service provided by the
Whitehorse Fire Department. "Though the city handles any issue related to fire, the community does play a role. Madden said that the community operates "a Fire Smart program, [and] in the instance of a catastrophic event, KDFN has community buildings that can be opened as temporary shelters."
This type of situation is not unique to KDFN, some communities are in close proximity to urban centres and have agreements in place with the municipality to provide fire protection. As a result, KDFN has no urgent needs in this area, has no annual budget for fire protection, nor does it receive funding for it.
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