Series of fires exhausts Six Nations firefighters


jpg, BR Jared Martin is taking part in a protest at the Six Nations central administration building in Ohsweken. Vincent Ball Demonstrators at the site on Wednesday said firefighters from outside Six Nations have nothing to fear.“All we want is peace,” Jared Martin, who was at the site on Wednesday and welcomed members of the media to talk.Others at the site said they, too, would welcome outside help in case of an emergency.“We’re here, at this building,” said one woman who asked not to be named. “We’re not over there at the fire station and any emergencies would be out in the community not here.”Meanwhile, the Six Nations fire department is urging residents to pay attention to their own safety.“The safety of the community remains our highest priority but, while we recover from the past nine days, we’re urging people to be proactive about fire safety,” Miller said.Residents are urged to make sure they have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their homes.  And they should make sure cooking appliances are not left unattended and that they follow guidelines for using [email protected]/EXPVBall OHSWEKEN An unprecedented spate of fires has left Six Nations volunteer firefighters exhausted, Fire Chief Matthew Miller says.“We’ve had five residential fires in the past nine days,” Miller said at a news conference Wednesday at the Six Nations fire and emergency services headquarters. “Fighting fires is a demanding job and our firefighters haven’t had enough time to recover physically and mentally.“It has left our firefighters in a constant state of exhaustion.”As a result, the fire department has had to adapt to the situation, Miller said.“We’re still responding to emergencies but with a significantly reduced number of firefighters so that others can recover,” he said. “Typically, we’d have 10 to 20 firefighters respond to an emergency. Now, we’re reduced to responding with only four.”Miller called the number of residential fires, including two that left families homeless, unprecedented in the history of the Six Nations fire service.“We usually respond to two or three house fires a month.”He said he believes the probability of another fire is high.Some of the five fires are being investigated as suspicious but so far no links have been found, said Miller, adding that Ontario Fire Marshal office is helping with the investigations.Late Tuesday, Six Nations firefighters had to jump out of the way while helping with a search-and-rescue operation when a speeding white pickup truck came towards the scene. The driver slammed on the brakes before hitting and damaging a fire truck. The driver fled the scene, Miller said.During past emergencies, like last spring’s flooding on Six Nations firefighters exhausted, neighbouring fire services provided staff to work at the Six Nations main fire hall. However, surrounding fire services are not comfortable sending firefighters to Six Nations because of an ongoing demonstration at the nearby Six Nations central administration building, Miller said.“We respect their concerns and, if the tables were turned, we would have the same concerns for our firefighters,” he said. “They (firefighters from other municipalities) will be responding to emergencies here from their stations but it will increase the response times by about 11 minutes.”Miller said the fire department is committed to protecting residents to the best of its ability.The Six Nations administration building has been closed for the past six weeks after demonstrators set up tents and a teepee on the building’s grounds. They are demanding the elected councillors acknowledge the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council as the governing body of Six Nations. The building is located close to the emergency services headquarters and the fire department’s No. 1 station.

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