La Ronge RFS donates used personal protection equipment to northern fire departments

La Ronge Regional Fire Service chief Keaton Cloud (centre) presents a load of donated personal protection equipment to members of the Hall Lake Fire Department, including deputy fire chief Leonard Halkett (left). Cloud made the donation on Saturday, Mar. 6, 2021. -- Submitted photo.

Several northern First Nations fire departments were able to equip their departments with boots, pants, coats and helmets thanks to a donation of used personal protective equipment by the La Ronge Regional Fire Service.

La Ronge RFS chief Keaton Cloud made the donation on behalf of the department on Saturday. He said the donation will help equip firefighters in gear that would have cost up to $80,000 if purchased new.

“With this new gear that is going to less fortunate departments, it gives firefighters protection they otherwise wouldn’t have,” Cloud wrote in an email to the Daily Herald. “(It) gives the members a sense of pride, and lets them know that they aren’t forgotten when it comes to firefighting PPE.”

The La Ronge department had to pull the equipment from service because it passed the 10-year lifespan put in place by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). However, Cloud said the equipment is still in good shape, and will be put to good use by smaller, rural fire departments.

“It’s common for larger centres to donate their PPE overseas to less fortunate countries, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that there are plenty of departments closer to home that may desperately need them,” Cloud wrote. “It’s better to have something rather than nothing at all in my eyes. I’m confident that the PPE that we are donating will go on protecting both volunteers and citizens for years to come.”

The La Ronge RFS began discussing a possible donation roughly one year ago. Cloud then made a recommendation to city council last July.

He added that they first approached the Lac La Ronge Indian Band (LLRIB), since they are a significant shareholder in the La Ronge department. Hall Lake Fire Department made several requests for equipment. The rest of the inventory was offered to the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC). Both groups received their deliveries on Saturday.

Cloud wrote that the equipment would have simply sat in storage if the donation didn’t happen.

“Firefighters who may be needing newer PPE or gear that first properly will be able to now have some,” he explained. “The donated PPE is in excellent shape. There are no breaches in the material, so I hope that with the donated PPE, it’s going to protect their firefighters better than what they may have now.”

The La Ronge RFS received a new delivery of firefighter PPE to replace their old equipment earlier this year.