Fire safety a priority in Kanesatake

Leftover COVID-19 relief funds are paying for fire extinguishers and integrated smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for community members as part of a Mohawk Council of Kanesatake (MCK) fire safety prevention campaign.

“There are fires over here once in a while, so it’s just a matter of protection,” said John Canatonquin, who leads the housing portfolio. The housing department has led the initiative to provide the equipment.

“It is important in a way,” he added. “Especially if you’ve got a wood stove or a fireplace. If you don’t maintain those things, it would be dangerous.”

Fewer and fewer people in the community have wood stoves, he said, which reduces at least one fire risk, but that doesn’t mean Kanehsata’kehró:non can be complacent.

“I think most people are careful what they’re doing,” said Canatonquin.

There is a limit of one fire extinguisher and one alarm per household, which means there is enough supply for every residential house in Kanesatake, according to Samantha Clarke, MCK’s asset management coordinator.

Those who are interested can arrange a pickup with Clarke by calling MCK and asking for her. The equipment is available on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and Thursdays from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Kanehsata’kehró:non can send someone on their behalf by filling out a form if they cannot make it during those times.

“A lot of people are interested because I’ve gotten a lot of calls to make sure they’re eligible,” said Clarke.

A good number of people have already picked up supplies since the initiative was launched on Tuesday, according to Clarke.

Kanehsata’kehró:non Natasha Gagnier already had equipment in her house, but some of it was in need of replacement, so she sent a friend to pick up the alarm and fire extinguisher on her behalf.

According to the Quebec government, smoke alarms must be replaced 10 years from the manufacture date, and carbon monoxide alarms also have a limited lifespan. Disposable fire extinguishers must be replaced after 12 years or after being used.

“I find it’s important to have because I have two fireplaces in my house, so that’s always good to have on hand,” said Kanehsata’kehró:non Natasha Gagnier, who was grateful the equipment came free of charge.

“I think they should do this every year but also give more than one of each depending on how big the houses are,” she added.

There is currently no deadline for picking up the equipment from MCK.

Marcus Bankuti, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door