Change underway in Yukon firefighting as communities launch new fire programs

Press Release

July 25, 2023

To ensure that fire services are meeting the needs of Yukoners across the territory, the Yukon Fire Marshal’s Office is implementing a new “levels of fire service” model in unincorporated communities.

Defining levels of service was recommended by the 2021 Review of the Yukon Fire Marshal’s Office and since 2022, Destruction Bay, Keno, Old Crow, Pelly Crossing and Ross River have launched new fire programs. This innovative model offers multiple levels of fire service to match the needs and capacities of individual Yukon communities.

A key benefit of the new model is its ability to offer options to unincorporated communities that cannot maintain a fire department. New options include a Fire Safety Champion program and a Scene Safety Response Unit program.

Implementation of the new model will take place over the next 15 months. All fire services in unincorporated communities will review their level of fire service and determine the program that best suits their needs and capacity by April 2024. The Yukon Fire Marshal’s Office will provide equipment, training and administrative support to help each community fire service meet the requirements of their level by November 2024.

This change will not affect municipal fire departments. However, the Government of Yukon supports any municipality that decides to adopt a similar approach for managing their fire services.

We are proud to introduce the new “levels of fire service” model, which provides options tailored to the unique needs and capacities of the Yukon’s unincorporated communities. Our aim is to help ensure every community receives the support and resources necessary to maintain a safe and sustainable fire service. Thank you to volunteer fire departments, First Nation governments, Local Area Councils, residents, and stakeholders for being strong partners in fostering healthy, vibrant, and safe Yukon communities.

Minister of Community Services Richard Mostyn

A successful fire service is community based, community driven and community supported. Even with only one volunteer, communities can take the first step and create a Fire Safety Champion program. With more volunteers, communities can maintain a Scene Safety Response Unit or a Fire Department. We are excited to work with volunteers and communities over the next few years to build fire services that are safe for responders and sustainable in the long run.

Yukon Fire Marshal Devin Bailey

We are grateful for all the support from the Fire Marshal’s Office to implement the Scene Safety Response Unit program.  For the first time in close to a decade, Pelly now has the ability to support a structural fire response.

Community Safety Officer, SSRU Team Lead Darcy Marcotte

Quick facts

  • The Government of Yukon is proud to work closely with volunteer fire departments, First Nation governments, Local Area Councils, residents and other stakeholders in developing a safe, sustainable Yukon fire service.
  • The Fire Marshal’s Office works with Yukon communities to oversee 15 volunteer fire services in unincorporated communities, providing administrative support, personal protective equipment and training resources to more than 115 volunteers across the territory.
  • Municipal fire services in Dawson, Mayo, Carmacks, Haines Junction and Watson Lake are managed and operated by their respective municipal governments.
  • Volunteer Fire Departments respond to structural (building) fires, vehicle collisions and other emergencies. Volunteers are paid an honorarium for time spent in training, standby or callout.
  • The three levels of fire services in the new model include: Fire Safety Champion Program, Scene Safety Response Unit, and Fire Department.
  • The first two levels (Fire Safety Champion Program and Scene Safety Response Unit) are not classified as fire departments; volunteers are not considered firefighters and do not have to take the same amount of training. Fire Safety Champions share prevention and education information, and act as a first point of contact for interested volunteers. Scene Safety Responders keep members of the public away from incidents and operate a truck with a water tank and pump to try to prevent fire from spreading to nearby structures, but do not put water directly on fire.

Backgrounder

  • The 2021 review of fire services contained recommendations in the areas of governance, operations, strategy and risk management and compliance.
  • Recommendation 6: That the Government of Yukon, through the Fire Marshal’s Office , audit and enforce the requirement for a fire department to operate, train and resource to a recognized level of service at all times.
  • The levels of service model is one way that the Fire Marshal’s Office is working with communities to respond to the review’s recommendations.
  • In addition to this engagement with communities, the Fire Marshal’s Office is working on a strategic plan for the next decade of fire services in the Yukon.

Media contact

Renée Francoeur
Cabinet Communications
867-334-9194
renee.francoeur@yukon.ca

Julia Duchesne
Communications, Community Services
867-332-4188
julia.duchesne@yukon.ca

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