The Village of Gitwinksihlkw welcomed its latest addition with Nisga’a tradition and other traditions this past week.
The new fire truck received a hands-on blessing from the elders and the people, and according to firefighter tradition was washed down and pushed by hand into its holding bay, said Gitwinksihlkw fire chief and village law officer Marven Morgan.
“The Nisga’a always blessed something of high value and showed their wealth by distributing goodies,” he said, adding the people gave out potato chips, pop, bottled water, oranges, bananas and one man from Kincolith came and gave out 300 Dungeness crab.
“In the late 1800s, when a fire department received its new fire truck, it was custom to wash it down and hand push it into its holding bay.”
That’s because the fire ‘truck’ at that time was pulled by horses so before it was put in the holding bay, it needed to be washed to get the horse manure and dirt off of it and the horses didn’t back it up very well.
The new fire truck was made by Hub fire engines, which is out of Abbotsford, he added.
Fire engines have a life expectancy of 20 years and the previous one was going on 30-years-old, said Morgan.
Its main priority is to fight fires in Gitwinksihlkw but if called upon by the other three villages in the Nass Valley, it will go where needed, he added. Trained first responders and the jaws of life will be on board too.
Since Gitwinksihlkw is the people of the lizard, the fire truck was named Lizzy, said Morgan.
The name was because of the history of the lizards, or salamander, that used to be plentiful before the volcano, said Morgan.
“After the volcano, the cold water moved in and pretty much reduced the numbers,” he said.
“The Nisga’a didn’t have a translation for salamander. They say it is good luck to see and catch one.”
The old fire truck is in storage and has been kept “bare bones” and if for some reason is needed too, it could be used to douse blazes, he added.