Yukon to invest in firefighting gear, training

The Yukon Government announced Tuesday it will spend $1.9 million on the territory's fire marshal's office.

$1.9M to go to fire marshal's office

The Yukon Government says it's working to address gaps in fire services by updating gear, trucks and increasing training.

The government announced Tuesday it plans to invest $1.9 million in the Yukon fire marshal’s office. This will go towards a new mobile fire training unit, two new deputy fire marshals and an additional new fire truck every year. The territory now buys one truck a year.

Carmacks Mayor Elaine Wyatt says more funding for equipment for firefighters in the territory is long overdue. (CBC)

Firefighters from across the territory said the funding is a much-needed investment.

In Carmacks, the municipality doesn’t have the money to update old radios that aren’t compatible with other first responders.

"The new RCMP radios, the new nursing radios, the new ambulance radios, they're all on the same ... radio link," said Mayor Elaine Wyatt. "But the fire [department] aren't because we can't afford the monthly bill just to keep [them] into the same loop."

Bob Atkinson, the fire chief of Ibex Valley Volunteer Fire Department, said part of the demand for new gear stems from tighter operational health and safety regulations that were put in place a few years ago.

"They put a pretty big burden on the equipment that everybody has to have and the levels of training, so what it's done is it's really put a lot of pressure on everybody," Atkinson said.

The funding will also mean more community visits from the fire marshal's office, more life safety inspections in all communities and more direct contact and support for fire chiefs. The fire marshal’s office supports 16 volunteer fire departments in unincorporated communities and also works with incorporated fire departments to provide training and support.

"The government of Yukon will be meeting with municipalities in the coming months to discuss enhancements to municipal funding relating to rising costs of municipal fire services," said Community Services Minister Elaine Taylor.

The government said the money for training, new equipment and new staff will happen right away. More money for municipalities will be discussed over the next year to determine just how much is needed and when it will happen.