Ahousaht firefighter Kurt John tackles flames during a 2016 structure fire. (Photo - Marcie Callewaert)

Ahousaht Fire Department always at the ready

“Under stressful situations we come out at our best.”

Marcie Callewaert

Special to the Westerly

Ahousaht faces many challenges due to its remote location but the community’s infallible spirit has allowed them to continually rise above them.

Mike George has been the acting fire chief for the past year. George has lived in Ahousaht for 19 years with his wife and children. Despite working long, multi-day shifts outside of the village, he remains dedicated to the villages safety when it comes to fires or medical calls.

George has come back to the village mid-shift to assist in a structure fire, making the communities safety his main priority.

The Ahousaht Department is comprised of men and women who are dedicated to their role. They will respond to a brush fire with the same sense of urgency as a house fire. Ahousaht gets its share of both, but averages less than 10 fires a year, according to George.

The Ahousaht Department also responds to assist First Responders with medical calls and stretcher lifts. One of the challenges George noted in Ahousaht is communication. Cell phone service is unreliable and pagers are not an option. Currently VHF radio is the quickest option to elicit a response and assemble the fire team. The entire village is quite close together, meaning response time is quick.

“Under stressful situations we come out at our best,” George praised.

The Ahousaht Fire Department team is expansive. When a member is away from the community, someone else is always available to fill their role. The team’s flexibility is one of their greatest strengths, but it also highlights the need for continued training, open to the entire community.

READ MORE: Ahousaht First Nation’s fire crew operating out of new Emergency Operations Centre

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