Fire chiefs split
Eastern, western division seen as positive move

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 28/98) - The split of the NWT Fire Chiefs Association brought on by division could prove to be a positive move, said Fort Good Hope fire Chief Lee Stroman.

At the conclusion of an association conference and workshop two weeks ago in Yellowknife, Stroman said a number of issues were dealt with at the meeting which will directly affect his department.

He said his 14-member volunteer force is not thrilled with the political reality which caused the division of the association, but said there will be benefits to western departments.

"We enjoyed the camaraderie and the opportunity to work and share things with the eastern guys," said Stroman.

"But, when we look towards the future, I think there are some things that pertain more to western members."

Stroman said talk has already started on conducting training at next year's conference focusing on urban-wildfire interface for departments in communities that are historically threatened by forest fires.

"That type of training doesn't relate to eastern members because they don't have the forest fire threat that we have," he said.

"That type of training is an example of something more specific to our needs than theirs."

Stroman said the split will cut his association's numbers almost in half, but the smaller numbers will allow for more overall training.

"What we're planning to do is bring all our officers to these conferences instead of just the chiefs.

"That allows that much more information to go home and that many more people to come out for training."

Stroman said association executives from the west will stay in place to represent western fire chiefs, while eastern members elected an interim executive to begin functioning immediately.

Eric Bussey, director of the Emergency Services Division, which funded the conference, said his department works as a partner with the NWT Fire Chiefs Association to improve the fire-protection system across the NWT.

He said the association's division won't affect the way his department conducts its affairs, but it will have to divide its services territorially.

"After April 1, 1999, the western territory will be our area of jurisdiction, so my role as director will be dealing simply with the western territory as opposed to the entire NWT, included Nunavut.

"However, our mandate will not have changed because of the split."