Clyde River’s Curtis Jaypoody has wanted to be a firefighter since he first watched a fire prevention presentation in kindergarten.
Some 15 years leader, he has achieved that dream, and, on some levels, exceeded it.
On Oct. 4, at 22 years old, he celebrated one year as his community’s deputy fire chief.
“Ever since the first fire prevention presentation at school, I have always been fascinated by the firefighters, their cool gear, their fire trucks, fighting fire,” he recalled. “Since then I said, ‘That’s gonna be me when I grow up.’ After understanding how firefighting works, it grew and grew on me, and it became the thing I love to do.
“My favourite thing about being the deputy is the tasks I have to do, and helping out everyone else around me – my community, and the fire department,” he added. “I love it. I don’t plan on going away from the job anytime soon; I can see myself do it until I am unable to anymore.”
Working as a firefighter is never easy, but it can be particularly challenging in Nunavut due to the limited availability of equipment, which is imperative to a firefighter’s ability to do their job safely and efficiently.
“The biggest challenges would have to be getting the proper equipment or supplies to me and my fellow firefighters,” said Jaypoody. “Some of our gear is a decade old or more. With having to fly supplies in, and the cost of the shipping, it’s sometimes well over our budget.”
The good news, he noted, is that there are “not many fires in Clyde River.” He estimates that the community of just over 1,000 people experiences two to three fires a year, though the number varies.
The few fires can be attributed, in part, to local fire prevention efforts.
For Jaypoody and his fellow firefighters, those efforts will ramp up on Oct. 8, which marks the beginning of National Fire Prevention Week in both Canada and the United States.
Jaypoody’s efforts for 2023 Fire Prevention Week will include a visit to the local school, where he and his colleagues will make a presentation to educate students.
“There will be a bunch of safety tips and some small gifts for the children at our school,” he said.
He recognizes that some of the students could be inspired to become firefighters by his department’s presentation, just like he was while he was in kindergarten.
In that event, he has a few pieces of advice to share.
“You can become who you want to be,” he said. “Never give up on your dreams, and maybe one day you will become a firefighter like me.
“Don’t forget to be safe, and don’t play with fire.”