Skidegate donates fire truck to Wet’suwet’en village

  • Oct. 30, 2009 6:00 a.m.

A Skidegate man is pumped after donating an old band council fire truck to a mainland First Nation community that had no fire protection. Roy Jones Jr. and his wife, Bonnie, were driving along Highway 16 just west of Burns Lake when they saw smoke. He pulled a U-turn to check it out and found a triplex that included a daycare and two homes burning on a small Wet’suwet’en reserve (also known as Broman Lake). “It was real heart wrenching event to watch this place burn to the ground,” he said. The community of 230 had hydrants, but no trucks or hoses and they were told by the Burns Lake fire department that their community was outside of their jurisdiction. Mr. Jones did what he could to help at the time, but when he got home to Skidegate he decided to go one step further. He convinced the Skidegate Band Council to donate the volunteer fire department’s retired 1982 GMC Pumper truck to the Wet’suwet’en community. Skidegate already had a new truck and the old one was still in excellent working condition, said Mr. Jones. He didn’t want to see a perfectly good truck end up like the one in the grass on beach side of Front Street, he said. Several people from Skidegate made the trip to Broman Lake, including Skidegate Chief Councillor Willard Wilson, to hand the keys to Chief Ruby Williams. A luncheon was hosted by the community and the Burns Lake fire chief was also at the handover. He has offered training and to help set up the truck, said Mr. Jones. “It was awesome. It was a really good event,” said Mr. Jones. He said there was enough hose included with the truck that the vehicle is firefighting ready. The only stipulation from the Skidegate Band Council was that the Wet’suwet’en pay the costs to get the vehicle to their community. Mr. Jones said BC Ferries Community Investment fund covered the cost of the ferry, so the community needed enough to pay for the insurance, fuel and a new battery. “They couldn’t believe that someone would just come and give them a fire truck,” said Mr. Jones.