BRACEBRIDGE - The Bracebridge Fire Department is making a lifesaving donation to fellow firefighters in a remote northern Ontario community.
Bracebridge Fire Department training officer Jared Cayley (right) and Wellington North fire prevention officer Jason Benn show off some of the firefighting equipment that Bracebridge firefighters are donating to Sandy Lake First Nation in northwestern Ontario.
Photo by Louis Tam
Hydrant wrenches, firefighting textbooks, forestry firefighting gear and turnout outfits were among the many items that were packed into boxes at the Dominion Street fire hall on Tuesday, Aug. 21. The gear is destined for the Sandy Lake First Nation, located several hours north of Kenora, and other surrounding communities.
The donation was made as part of an equipment drive being organized by Wellington North fire prevention officer Jason Benn, whose community housed many evacuees from Sandy Lake when they were driven from their homes during a forest fire last year.
The department of 16 firefighters there serves a community of about 3,000 people, but doesn’t have the funds to overcome equipment shortages. Those problems were highlighted earlier this year when a school in the community was hit by a devastating fire.
“To fully equip a firefighter with (breathing apparatus) is about $7,000,” said Benn. “They’re working with really old stuff.”
Though much of the equipment being donated from Bracebridge is still in good condition, firefighting regulations dictate that it must be regularly replaced. But instead of throwing the articles out, Bracebridge fire training officer Jared Cayley said his department decided to give them a new home.
Among the items being donated is a 30-year-old pump. Still worth about $4,700, it has been owned by the Bracebridge Fire Department for about three decades and was previously thought to be unserviceable. A lot of tinkering and elbow grease, however, has since got it working like new.
“It almost pumps better than some of the new ones we’ve got,” said Cayley.
Several other fire departments in Ontario have also sent items to the equipment drive, including a hydraulic Jaws of Life. Currently, Sandy Lake firefighters only have access to an older hand-pump model.
The donation is the second of its kind this year from a south Muskoka fire department. In February, the Muskoka Lakes Fire Department sent about 100 sets of bunker gear to firefighters in Jamaica.