This year, AFAC once again held a virtual National Firefighting Competition (NFC). This decision was in support of the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and public safety. The 2021 competition intentionally shifted its focus to public education and fire prevention, and in the spirit of community, capacity building, and shared resources, the competition requirements involved the submission of the public education video based on one of the themes provided. The goal was to create a digital library of public education and fire prevention videos created by communities for communities, to ensure that there are culturally relevant materials accessible to all.
This year’s winners included first place winners Service Incendie Mashteuiatsh from Quebec. With their video on Home Escape planning, they received $10,000 in addition to $3,000 for winning first place in the regional competition for Quebec, resulting in a total of $13,000 in structural firefighting equipment.
Morin Lake Volunteer Fire Department from the Saskatchewan region won second place in the NFC and received $7,500 in addition to $3,000 for winning first place in the regional competition (SK), for a total of $10,500.
Lennox Island Fire Department from the Atlantic region won third place in the NFC and received $5,000 in addition to $3,000 for first place in the regional competition (ATL) for a total of $8,000.
Nipissing First Nation Fire and Emergency Services won $3,000 for first place in the Ontario regional competition.
The purpose of the NFC is to bring Indigenous fire departments together, to build a sense of community, while also promoting skill development and fire prevention in community. It’s also an opportunity to enhance the cohesion within fire departments.
Patrick Gill-Dupe of Service Incendie Mashteuiatsh describes what it was like to create a fire prevention video with his team and what impact his team hopes their video will have on the community:
“We took advantage of this activity to team build. We organized a small working group. A team for the script, a team that would participate in front of the camera and another behind the camera. Part of the community had a sense of pride. The fact that we managed to win an English-language contest with a French-language base video, it was a great accomplishment. Afterwards, we appreciated the sharing of the video and comments from the community. Hoping they use the tips inside the video”.
When asked how the prize money would impact their fire department, Gill-Dupe noted that their equipment that was over 30 years old and no longer working properly. The prize money enabled them to reduce their annual deficit, and buy new equipment and training tools, which will enable them to improve their training sessions. The team purchased a training dummy, and items such as a fire nozzle, SCBA cylinders and hoses. The team hops that this new equipment will directly impact their community by improving their response time, reducing the risk of malfunction of old equipment and support the safety of members and firefighters.