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Timmins to donate gear to Mattagami firefighters

Council approval would be a breath of fresh air for nearby fire chief
20160306 Wilcox Avenue Fire KA 02
Respirators such as these are crucial for firefighting operations. File photo by Kenneth Armstrong/Village Media

The Mattagami Volunteer Fire Department will receive some much needed equipment from a donation by the Timmins Fire Department, pending official council approval.

Twelve self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) will likely be on their way to the Mattagami First Nation, near Gogama.

In 2016, the City of Timmins replaced its entire inventory of SCBA. There are a total of 70 new model SCBA units assigned throughout the fire department. Former Fire Chief Mike Pintar told council the old fleet was no longer meeting the department's needs and recent standards.

In October, the city received a request from Wilbert Wesley, Fire Chief of the Mattagami Volunteer Fire Department, for a donation of 12 of the old units.

"Currently, I am struggling with the SCBA issues and the lack thereof," wrote Wesley.

"I am in desperate need to try and acquire more SCBA sets and cylinder bottles for safety sake of my volunteers."

These SCBAs require important and expensive upgrades in order to be deemed safe for use in the field, which the city says would not be a financially smart decision. They are being stored at the Cedar Street fire hall, but it is clear they will never be used again by the Timmins Fire Department. 

"Having these in our fire department would allow us to raise the safety standard when it comes to RIT (Rapid Intervention Team) having SCBAs, and the search teams having SCBAs to utilize during a working fire. We currently and recently signed a mutual aid agreement with the community of Gogama. Having the necessary equipment in a time of need would be a valuable asset to the Mattagami and Gogama Fire Departments," said Wesley in a letter to current Timmins Fire Chief Normand Beauchamp.

City council will discuss and vote on the staff recommendation on Tuesday night. Beauchamp and City of Timmins CAO Dave Landers have both given their approval and the vote appears to be a formality, as it clears out inventory and boosts a nearby fire department.

"Mattagami First Nation would take complete responsibility and liability for the donation of the MSA SCBAs and cylinders, thus no accountability whatsoever to the Timmins Fire Department," added Wesley.