PHOTO: OPG production manager Darcey Bailey (centre) presents the OPG Health & Safety Award to Atikokan Fire Rescue, represented here by firefighters Mike Cameron, Kitrina Jacobson, Chief Graham Warburton, and Tylor Marusyk.
The Chamber of Commerce presented the Ontario Power Generation health and safety award to Atikokan Fire Rescue, at its annual awards gala here May 18.
With a full complement of 28 volunteers, this service protects us 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.
In June, Graham Warburton succeeded Garth Dyck and became the fifth chief in the service’s 68 year history. He is committed to continuing the strong commitment to training and skills development for the members of the service. And that means a lot more than dunking them in ice-covered lakes at least once a year – although the so-called ice water rescue training will continue.
Of course, they fight fires – house fires, grass fires, forest fires, vehicle fires, and industrial fires. They also have to be ready to deal with hazardous materials, vehicle extrications, water and ice rescue, and more. They have to be ready to assist police, ambulance, and public utilities in difficult situations. And they play an absolutely central role in the community’s emergency preparedness plan.
Doing all these things safely and ably requires a huge commitment to training. And it’s fair to say that a volunteer typically spends far more time training and earning certifications than he or she does actually fighting fires. And that’s a good thing.
The volunteers gather for training sessions several evenings each month, and also have the opportunity to participate in multi-day courses several times a year. They are also involved with the chief in a variety of fire prevention and public awareness initiatives.