Sheg First Nation launches first fire department

SHEGUIANDAH—On a sunny Friday morning, Chief Orville Aguonie of the Sheguiandah First Nation, members of the band’s operations and maintenance department, and future volunteer firefighters of the first fire department in Sheguiandah, excitedly awaited the arrival of their new fire truck.

“We purchased the truck in January,” said Chief Aguonie, “but we had to wait for it to be refurbished and pass safety inspections.”

Chief Aguonie and council decided to launch their own fire department and purchase a fire truck due to the large amount of finances spent on paying for the Northeast Town fire department to put out fires in Sheguiandah last year.

“We were very thankful for all the help the NEMI fire department has given us, but we spent $15,000 on grass fires alone last year,” explained Chief Aguonie. “It was also an issue of health and safety for the people of Sheguiandah because we needed to cut down response time.”

The group was very excited when the fire truck arrived, delivered by Eastway Emergency Vehicles, who the band purchased the truck from. “Eastway even got us in touch with the Ottawa Fire Department who donated surplus equipment,” said Chief Agounie.

Included in the donation was six fire suits, which Chief Agounie explained cost upwards of $1,500 each, in addition to a ladder and hoses.

“We are hoping to reach out to other fire departments on the Island and in Northern Ontario to donate any surplus materials they may have,” said Chief Agounie. “This project is really important to us in building our infrastructure and giving our people a sense of pride.”

The money for the new fire truck was from the Rama Fund, which is money the band receives each year from their partnership with Casino Rama.

The Sheguiandah First Nation fire department already has 15 volunteers signed up to be volunteer fire fighters. Dave Corbiere, the fire chief for the Aundeck Omni Kaning Fire Department, will be assisting the new fire department in development as well as training.

Earlier last week, the band purchased a grader and a loader from Nortrax in Sudbury. Two individuals from the operations and maintenance department have already been sent away for training and received their heavy equipment licenses. The grader will be used in road maintenance and the loader was needed to assistant in the running of the band’s gravel pit.