The new Mattagami First Nation fire chief is looking forward to continuing to serve the community and the surrounding area.
Curtis Fowler has been named as the new fire chief.
He wants to continue having the team work together and build the department.
“I’m going to continue upholding the high standards we have for the fire department, the training and to continue as a team, as brothers and sisters," he said.
Fowler, 44, is from Mattagami First Nation and has 25 years of experience in mine rescue, forest and residential firefighting in different communities across the province and the country.
According to outgoing fire chief Wilbert Wesley, the fire department has six officers and about 24 volunteer firefighters.
Wesley, who has been in emergency services for about 25 years, rovides education and training to First Nation fire departments. Initially, his contract in Mattagami was supposed to last for a year. Because the department was “flourishing and growing,” Wesley ended up in the community for three and a half years.
“Now, the community fire department has met the expectations and has become a very strong department, so my time here is done,” Wesley said. “The standards that are set are making this department well off … When the department gets to the stage and they’re able answer the calls without my constant direction or supervision, and you see them managing these scenes extremely well, those are excellent indicators to me that my time here is done and that it’s time to pass on the reins to Curtis Fowler.”
Wesley will now work as a Mushkegowuk Council’s regional emergency services manager for Region 9 Cochrane District, looking after eight communities.
He said he’s proud to see the Mattagami First Nation firefighters are not only skilled in suppression techniques and firefighting, but they are also trained in health and safety, highway emergency services and spill response and cleanup.
He is also proud to have more than 20 firefighters in the small community.
“It has really become a pinnacle moment for this community,” Wesley said. “I’m really proud of this team because it really took the initiative to go further than what was expected in order to perfect their services and make them an honourable and recognized professional team both in this community, in neighbouring cities and also on that section of Highway 144 that they watch. They’ve really come along in the last three and a half years.”