Fire chief didn’t send firefighters to house fire that killed 2 kids because community stopped paying its bill

The Canadian Press:

The volunteer fire chief in a Saskatchewan village says a neighbouring First Nation that lost two children in a house fire cancelled its firefighting contract with the community.

Larry Heon, who is also the mayor of Loon Lake, says he was sleeping when he got a 911 call automatically routed to him at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday about the blaze on the Makwa Sahgaiehcan reserve.

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“But we didn’t go,” said Heon, who explained that the band has outstanding bills and last year sent the village a letter discontinuing the service.

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The Globe and Mail:

“The Loon Lake Fire Department will not be responding to any fires on the First Nations until this account is paid in full,” said a Jan. 30 letter to the reserve.

Village administrator Laurie Lehoux said Wednesday that the reserve previously had a contract with the community for volunteer fire services. The band paid an annual $5,000 fee, plus costs for each fire the department attended.

CJME Radio:

When asked who was currently responsible for putting out fires on reserve, Heon said “don’t have a clue; I don’t think anybody is.”

Heon explained that the band once paid a $5,000 annual retainer for fire protection, but that had been cancelled in favour of a “pay-as-you-go” service.

“If you don’t pay your bills you get no service, right? Just like if you don’t pay your gas bill, you get no gas,” he said.

Chief Richard Ben told the Canadian Press that he thought they were still paying the Loon Lake department for firefighting services. That was echoed by the band’s finance director Kurt Schultz.

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