Firefighters in Pictou Landing First Nations are getting a new home for their gear.
The volunteer fire department there lost its base of operations when it and the band office it was attached to were torn down; today the department is based out of the fisheries building.
On Sunday, the fire department officially broke ground on what will be their new, permanent location marking the beginning of the final leg of a journey that started two years ago.
Acting Fire Chief Leonard Cremo said the reality of the new facility as it inches closer is having a noticeable affect on the community and greater numbers have been turning out to meetings regarding the fire department than ever before.
“I can see it already,” Cremo said, “the community’s just come together.”
Cremo said his department has recently purchased a truck from the Pictou Landing department – at the princely sum of $1 – although it is still a week or two away from actually trading hands.
“Now that we’ve got a truck, and another truck, and another truck, and a building coming –holy God, everybody’s coming,” Cremo smiled.
Pictou Landing First Nations Chief Andrea Paul said it’s an “exciting” time for the community, although it does come as a cap to a long period of frustration.
“It was getting to be a bit of a frustrating process because we weren’t sure if the funding would come through. You just keep the pressure on. The significant piece was that, I think, with all of this and the conversations we had with INAC (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada) was to remind them of the response time for emergencies and how crucial it is that we don’t lose our volunteers who have been doing this for so many years.”
Paul said while housing the fire department in the fisheries building was a good temporary fix, it hasn’t been ideal.
“Although we had this great facility to use, the downfall of it was we lost our programs in fisheries last winter,” Paul said. “The upside is we were able to maintain our volunteer firefighting base and be able to respond effectively to emergencies. However, the fisheries suffered as a result. One outweighed the other, but safety always comes first.”
The old facility wasn’t quite ideal either, Paul said, as its small size meant there was enough room for equipment and little else. The new building – which is to be built more or less across the street from the fisheries building – will be built to a modified version of the same plans as the fisheries building. Some modifications had to be made for functionality but the layout also had to be expanded late in the game when the department acquired their newest truck.
“The great thing is we have such strong allies with Pictou Landing and Little Harbour,” Paul said. “There’s a great relationship there. I’m really proud that our community is so well received that way.”
Cremo said the new building should be completed by March.
Acting Fire Chief Leonard Cremo and Acting Deputy Chief Corbin Stevens formally break ground at the location of the soon-to-be-built Pictou Landing First Nations Fire Hall, surrounded by firefighters and supporters. (Cameron photo)