PEI

Charlottetown fire safety sessions aim to make newcomers feel like a 'part of our city,' says fire inspector

The Charlottetown fire department has been holding training sessions to help newcomers understand more about the role of the local fire department. 

Officials hope to correct misconceptions around fire safety

'We've got firefighters in with the gear and with our air packs to visually see and hear us,' says Charlottetown Fire Inspector Winston Bryan. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

The Charlottetown fire department, with help from the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada, has been holding training sessions to help newcomers understand more about its role in the community.

Officials hope to correct some misconceptions around fire safety and encourage people new to Canada and the Island to feel comfortable in calling emergency services.

For Charlottetown Fire Inspector Winston Bryan, the sessions are about breaking down barriers. 

"We wanted to reach out and make them aware what the fire service has to offer and to make them feel safe and part of our city," Bryan said. 

We went to numerous fire or fire situations, or emergency situations and we found that they were scared, or scared of us.— Winston Bryan, Charlottetown fire inspector

He said some of the newcomers come from countries where houses are made of clay and other materials, where furnaces are not commonly used, or where cooking appliances are different. These factors, he said, could impact their knowledge of fire safety on the Island where wood, a highly combustible material, is used.   

Bryan said during some calls, the department also realized some newcomers were under the impression they would be charged a fee or even punished if they called for help with a fire.

"We went to numerous fire or fire situations, or emergency situations and we found that they were scared, or scared of us. Even our uniforms could be a frightening situation for them when we arrive on a scene," he said. 

Officials hosting the sessions are accompanied by an interpreter to help communicate with newcomers who attend, Bryan said.

"The newcomers get an interpreter and we go through a question and answer exercise. We've got firefighters in with the gear and with our air packs to visually see and hear us," he said.

Bryan said the last training session will be held on Dec. 4 at the Charlottetown fire department. 

More P.E.I. news

With files from Angela Walker

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