Fire Chief warns his department is at the breaking point exhausted
In the past week and a half, Six Nations firefighters have battled a house fire every other day including one that left a family of six homeless. The 48 firefighters who work for the department have not been able to take a break.A difficult admission for a fire chief, but Matthew Miller says he has a duty to make people extra vigilant about fires. The recent fires are still under investigation but the fire chief says there doesn’t seem to be an underlying reason the community has seen so many fires in such a short period of time.In the past five years, the fire department has increased staff; from two volunteers at a time, to five full-timers and a district chief on duty and it is still hiring. Instead of responding to calls within five to seven minutes, fire trucks may take sixteen to eighteen minutes.Five fires in ten days would overwhelm even a city fire department, Chief Miller says, and they still respond to non-fire emergencies. Neighboring fire departments including Haldimand Brant and Caledonia would typically send relief workers to Six Nations but Chief Miller says they won’t come because of safety concerns there’s an ongoing protest at the elected council office next door to the fire station.Protesters say outside firefighters have no cause for concern.