Interview with Zachary Gladue, Deputy Fire Chief from Bigstone Cree Nation

Jun 3, 2021 | Newsletter 2021 06 June

We recently had the pleasure of talking with Zachary Gladue about his experiences with the IFMS and the NIFSC Project, and the value he found in the programs.

IFMS Training Workshops

At 25 years of age, Zachary Gladue is already a veteran firefighter with over a decade of experience working in emergency services. He started at 14 as a junior firefighter, and worked his way up to captain three years ago. Within the last six months, Gladue was promoted to deputy fire chief with Bigstone Cree Nation, which is made up of three communities in Northern Alberta.

Having completed his FNPA 1001 and 1002 firefighter training, Gladue is always looking to further his training as a way to advance his career in emergency services while assisting his community. So when he heard about the IFMS training courses, he was eager to sign up. He completed five of the six courses that were offered in early 2021 and said he experienced benefits from all of them.
According to Gladue, the course that had the biggest impact on him personally was Fire Bylaw Development. He said the course allowed attendees to access paperwork and forms needed to draft fire bylaws and taught them how to enforce them once they were in place. Armed with knowledge on how to draft appropriate fire bylaws, the department was able to present them to Chief and Council for review and adoption.

Learning how to better support his Nation through the Fire and Life Safety Program Planning workshop also sticks out in Gladue’s mind. He found the course helpful because it offered tips on how to effectively educate people, including children and Elders, on fire and life safety and provided advice on how to approach them in a friendly, positive manner.

One of the greatest positives of all the training events, according to Gladue, was having the opportunity to learn from fire and life safety experts and being able to ask them questions and receive advice from them. While he says it’s easy to jump in and do things on your own, with the help of others you can usually find a better or faster way.

During the workshop, Gladue also learned effective ways of educating community members on why certain bylaws exist and how providing a warning, along with an explanation, is often enough to initiate compliance.

Community Impact

Gladue said the knowledge he takes away from programs offered by the NIFSC Project will definitely help him in his work to improve fire and life safety in his community. He is encouraging other members of the fire department to sign up for training events and believes members of the community outside emergency services can also receive benefits. He said fire prevention courses are useful to help parents understand techniques to keep children away from lighters and other fire and safety hazards and teach them how to recognize and avoid fire and life safety hazards themselves.

With several IFMS training courses currently offered and more rolling out in the near future, Indigenous communities will all have the opportunity to implement solid fire prevention programs and greatly improve safety for all members.