Thanks to the firefighters of Hay River

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We have to say ‘Thanks’ this week to the firefighters of Hay River.

It would be negligent if we were to write about anything else.

This month, our firefighters have shown their value to the community many times over. Not that anybody needs to be reminded of what has happened in March from a firefighting perspective, but there have been two major incidents that called for the Hay River Fire Department to respond.

Of course, there was the dramatic – and visible all over the community – fire at the Mackenzie Place highrise. There is still much to be known about the cause and the future impact of that fire, but one thing is already clear – the fire department responded quickly, helped evacuate the building and put the fire out just like they have trained to do.

Now, our opinion about firefighting (or anything else, for that matter) really doesn’t mean anything, so we shall instead offer the expert opinion of NWT Fire Marshal Chucker Dewar.

“I have the highest level of confidence in Hay River Chief (Ross) Potter and his fire department,” Dewar said in an interview with The Hub. “They just did an amazing job of responding to a complex, dangerous incident, and they brought the situation under control in very short order. The Town of Hay River is pretty lucky to have a fire department of that calibre.”

Well, Fire Marshal Dewar, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves (and thanks very much for helping us write this editorial).

No one in Hay River needs to be reminded of the second challenge that faced the firefighters this month – a stubborn fire at the landfill site.

Dump fires don’t have the drama or create the startling images of flames leaping out 11th-floor windows of a highrise fire, but they can be dangerous in their own way, especially by negatively affecting air quality.

The Hay River Fire Department responded to the dump fire when it was first noticed on March 3 and continued the battle after it flared up on March 9.

It could be argued that the response to the dump fire was almost more impressive than the response to the highrise fire. The battle at the landfill has been going on for over three weeks. That takes special commitment and dedication to stay in the fight for so long, and it is obvious that Hay River firefighters have that commitment and dedication.

According to an update late last week, the landfill fire appears to be almost finally put out.

We can only hope that the Hay River Fire Department – a volunteer group except for a full-time fire chief/director of protective services – can catch a break for the next little while and there will be no more serious incidents that require their response.

However, it is reassuring to know – as this month has proven – that our fire department is ready and able to respond efficiently to whatever comes its way.

We wanted to use the word ‘professionally’ in the previous sentence, but, as we have already mentioned, they are volunteers, which makes their efforts all the more impressive.

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