National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 4-10, and although it’s become a tradition for the local fire department to observe the occasion, the happenings in Meadow Lake next week will be anything but traditional.

“With the pandemic problem, we are unable to host our traditional open house or the other fire prevention week activities we would usually hold during a typical year,” explained Meadow Lake fire chief Neil Marsh. “Instead we are going to hold a sort of virtual open house.”

Marsh said the plan is to feature live videos via the Internet that showcase a typical day in the life of a firefighter or even what goes on on a day-to-day basis at the fire hall.

“We’re still working out all the details, but we’ll also see what else we can do during that time,” he added. “Perhaps there will be an opportunity for some school visits, depending on what is allowed or not.”

In spite of the changes this year, Marsh said the message of fire safety remains as important as ever.

“We have been very busy as of late, which means we haven’t had a lot of time to become frustrated over the necessary changes to Fire Prevention Week, which I suppose is a good thing,” he noted.

The theme of this year’s National Fire Prevention Week is Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.

“It’s all about kitchen fires and how to avoid them, and how to combat them such as by throwing a wet cloth over a burning pan and not pouring water onto it, which could end up leading to a house fire – it’s always the simple, easy things people either forget about or take for granted that could result in major loss or even tragedy.” Marsh continued. “And, yes, even though we have been quite busy, we would much rather be spending our time helping people understand the importance of staying safe.”

Among those also promoting fire prevention locally this year is rookie firefighter Basil Paul. He joined Meadow Lake Fire and Rescue in June of this year.

“I joined because I want to help the community I live in, and there’s no better opportunity to do so than this,” Paul said.

Paul is originally from India. He arrived in Meadow Lake Dec. 28, 2019.

“This is my way of giving back,” he reiterated.

Also new to the department is Meadow Lake’s Renée Stevenot. She joined in May of this year and is one of a handful of female firefighters now serving in the Meadow Lake community.

“My boyfriend is also on the department, and I have seen him have to rush away from dinners and other events to respond to fire calls on many occasions,” Stevenot said. “During the pandemic, I was with him when he responded to a structure fire. There were a lot of people standing around watching, and it was then I knew I would much prefer to be one of the people helping the situation than just standing around and not really knowing what is going on.”

Stevenot said, so far, her experience has been a positive one.

“I had no training as a first responder before signing up, but there is a lot of training involved and I am really enjoying it,” she noted. “The fire department has been very welcoming – we’re like one big family… It’s nice to see a few more female members starting with the department. It will be interesting to see where things go from here.”

by Phil Ambroziak