Better training for firefighters
West now able to focus on specific needs

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 30/98) - Developing higher standards of training for NWT fire departments was one of the more positive initiatives to come from the annual Fire Chiefs Association conference earlier this month, says Mick Beauchamp, Yellowknife fire chief.

Beauchamp, who is also president of the Western Fire Chiefs Association, said the delivery of higher standards in training programs to all chief officers and firefighters will greatly benefit Yellowknife and other NWT departments.

"This type of training, if it becomes a reality, would be like an apprenticeship for fire services," said Beauchamp.

"This is something we've all strived for which is taken for granted in other provinces and jurisdictions."

Beauchamp said fire chiefs from across the NWT are optimistic the training will happen because of advances made between the association and municipal affairs.

He said higher training standards and program delivery would become a real issue in Yellowknife and the rest of the Western Arctic.

The split in the fire chief's association enables the NWT's association to concentrate on western departments and concerns, such as the wildland/urban interface issue.

"As long as Nunavut was part of the association, trees and wildland fire wasn't a real issue with them," said Beauchamp.

"I'm not saying they don't have their own issues, because they do have many that are common to us.

"But, we're confident, because of the larger number of organized fire departments in the West, we can bring in accredited training programs which will really benefit the NWT."

Beauchamp said travel arrangements and reaching seminars in the West is far easier than in the East.

He said because of the split, the western association will be more flexible as its executive can be in different communities in the NWT.

The western road system also enables executive members to reach communities cheaper and easier.

"While everybody hated to see the Nunavut fire chiefs leave, I think it was a political reality that there is going to be two territories.

"They will be able to do what benefits them the most and we'll be able to do what benefits us the most."