Fire protection in First Nation communities

Find out more about how fire protection on-reserve is funded, and learn more about the #BeFireSafe campaign.

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Wildfires in First Nation communities

Wildfires are a natural hazard that can put First Nation communities at risk. Wildfire response services are led by provincial and territorial emergency management organizations. To find out what to do before or during a wildfire, or to see the current wildfire risk in your region, visit Wildfires.

Indigenous Services Canada annually budgets $16.5 million in funding for wildfire management services and provides funding to support First Nations wildfire prevention and mitigation activities across the country. To learn more, visit Emergency Management Assistance Program: Funded projects.

Funding for fire protection

Fire protection is the way a community responds once a fire has started. Fire protection services include:

On reserves, fire protection is managed by the First Nation band council. Indigenous Services Canada provides funding for fire protection every year as part of the First Nation's core capital funding.

The level of funding each First Nation receives for fire protection is determined through a regionally-based formula. It looks at several factors, including the number of buildings on the reserve, population, local environment and how close the reserve is to other communities. Between 2008 and 2017, the department provided an average of nearly $29 million annually for fire protection services. This included $4.9 million for fire protection services training.

First Nation band councils can use these funds to run their own fire departments or to contract fire protection services from nearby communities. If a First Nation decides to contract with a nearby community, it is the responsibility of the First Nation to manage that agreement. First Nations that contract with local municipalities may also have access to 9-1-1 services.

First Nations may choose to use fire protection funding on other priorities. The amount of funding each First Nation plans to spend on fire protection is outlined in its annual First Nations Infrastructure Investment Plan.

First Nation communities that receive annual capital funding from Indigenous Services Canada for on-reserve housing may also use those funds for housing insurance.

Since 2007, the department has provided approximately $220,000 per year to the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada (AFAC) to organize a number of awareness and training events, including the National Aboriginal Firefighters Competition and the National Fire Safety Multimedia and Poster Contest for children.

#BeFireSafe education campaign

#BeFireSafe is a national year-round campaign created by the Government of Canada and AFAC. #BeFireSafe highlights the importance of fire prevention all year, both inside and outside the home, and outlines a series of seasonal fire prevention and safety tips. The goal of #BeFireSafe is to reduce the number of injuries, damages and deaths related to fire by raising awareness and promoting education.

Find out more at #BeFireSafe.

Joint First Nations Fire Protection Strategy

In April 2016, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (now Indigenous Services Canada) and AFAC announced an updated five-year Joint First Nations Fire Protection Strategy with an emphasis on increased collaboration between the department and AFAC.

Although the 2010-2015 First Nations Fire Protection Strategy made progress in reducing fire related risks, both the department and AFAC recognized a need to have a more focused approach for:

AFAC meets with Indigenous Services Canada twice each year, in February and August, to review progress and plan collaborative activities.

For more details, see the 2016-2021 Joint First Nations Fire Protection Strategy.

National Aboriginal Firefighters Competition

Sponsored by Indigenous Services Canada and organized by AFAC, the National Aboriginal Firefighters Competition is an annual event aimed at celebrating and training Aboriginal firefighters.

Each summer there is a series of regional competitions, where teams of firefighters from First Nation communities across Canada have a chance to qualify for the national competition. Qualifying teams are chosen from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Nunavut and the Atlantic region to demonstrate their skills and abilities at the national competition.

At the national competition, teams compete in a series of challenges ranging from rolling hoses, fast coupling drills, and replacing a burst length. Throughout the competition, participants also attend training sessions to improve their skills.

The National Aboriginal Firefighters Competition is a chance to showcase new firefighting techniques and technologies, exchange best practices between communities, and increase awareness about fire prevention.

Find out more about the 2017 National Aboriginal Firefighters Competition.

National Fire Safety Multimedia and Poster contest

The National Fire Safety Multimedia and Poster Contest is an annual event sponsored by Indigenous Services Canada and coordinated by AFAC held in October of each year during Fire Prevention Week. The aim of the contest is to engage children and youth in spreading the word about fire safety through the design of posters or multi-media projects. 

Find out more about the 2017-2018 National Fire Safety Multimedia and Poster contest.

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