Fire-fighting on remote reserve needs federal boost, band says
New fire truck costs around $250,000
The Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Saskatchewan's north is calling on the federal government to help the reserve get the training and equipment needed to fight fires in the community.
The need for additional resources follows the tragic deaths, on Saturday, of two young boys in a house fire on the Peter Ballantyne reserve.
Chief Peter Beatty noted Tuesday that their only fire truck is over 25 years old.
"It's not up to standard for one thing," Beatty told CBC News. "And it's an old piece of equipment. Even if it was operational, we don't have the trained personnel for a volunteer fire department or fire crew."
Beatty said a current federal program covers 50 per cent of the cost of a new fire truck. However, he said it would be difficult for the community to come up with its share, considering the overall cost of the specialized vehicle is around $250,000.
Beatty said house fires are a major concern in the community, especially considering the age of many buildings and the reserve's meager fire-fighting capabilities.
Even if they could afford a new fire truck, they would need to come up with money to train people on it and build a proper fire hall or upgrade their existing fire hall.
The boys who died were nine and 10. Another child is in hospital with burns from the fire.
The homeowner and three others were able to escape the fire.
Investigators are still determining the cause.
Pelican Narrows is in northeast Saskatchewan, about 120 kilometres northwest of Flin Flon, Man.
With files from CBC's Ryan Pilon