Residents responsible for fire safety as Fort Res temporarily without fire department

Deninu Kųę́ First Nation office. (Photo taken from Deninu Kųę́ First Nation Facebook page.)

Fort Resolution is advising residents to be responsible for their own fire safety as the community is temporarily without a volunteer fire department. 

“I’ve officially resigned,” said former Fire Chief Arthur Sanderson.

Five other members resigned with him, while two members remain in the department.  

Patrick Simon, mayor of Fort Resolution, wrote in a statement that mayor and council held a meeting Monday evening after Sanderson’s resignation “to discuss the challenges in a meaningful and respectful manner.”

It was decided that the hamlet will go from what is known as a standard level two to a basic level one response. 

The standard level two requires at least six trained members in the department, and have access to equipment such as fire trucks, hoses, ropes and ladders.

Whereas level one requires the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs to provide fire safety education to the community.

Todd Francis, Fort Resolution’s SAO, said he hopes this is only temporary.

“We took those steps and we hope to move forward as quickly as we possibly can to get us back to level two,” he said.

But the hamlet will need a new fire chief and several volunteers before that can happen.

The department’s alert system

In a previous interview with CKLB, Sanderson said the resignation came as a result of conflict with the community’s SAO over the department’s phone alert system.

Sanderson and several other members wanted a landline hooked up in each member’s house, so all of them would be alerted when a call comes in.  

Whereas Francis supports a single cellphone that would be one member’s responsibility each week. The firefighter who has the phone would be paid $100 for the weekly responsibility and would be in charge of dispatching the call to other members.

He says this is similar to the system used in Hay River.

Hay River Fire Chief Ross Potter says his town’s alert system is a bit more complicated, but the basic idea is similar. He added the cellphone alert system was a good idea for Fort Resolution.  

However, Sanderson says he doesn’t think this system would work.

“People got lives, this is a volunteer thing,” he said. “What happens if that person forgets that phone one time?”

He says there have been previous issues building up to his resignation.

Sanderson says he feels as though the department never received support from the town council. 

Deninu Kųę́ First Nation Chief Louis Balsillie, Sanderson’s brother and fire department sub-chief, agreed. 

Both say they plan to help out with the new department and help out if there is a fire before a new department is established. 

About the Author

Luke Carroll
Luke Carroll is a journalist originally from Brockville, Ont. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor in Ottawa, Halifax and New Brunswick. Luke is a graduate of Carleton University's bachelor of journalism program. If you have a story idea, feel free to send him an email at