Joseph Arnakak was promoted to captain of the Clyde River Volunteer Fire Department earlier this year despite having only joined the brigade in March 2018.
Nick Illauq, the community’s fire chief, is thoroughly impressed with what Arnakak has accomplished in such a short period of time.
“He is very committed and responds every time,” says Illauq. “He takes any strategic advice to heart. He is my second-hand man, very dependable.”
Arnakak, 25, earned a score of 92 per cent on his firefighter level two exam, allowing him to move up the ranks.
“That’s very good for level two,” Illauq says of the test score.
Achieving that mark took “a lot of studying,” Arnakak admits.
There’s bound to be more studying in his future as he’s planning to apply for fire officer training. That would put him on track to eventually move into a supervisory role, in addition to broadening his knowledge of safety, inspections, communications and fire scene management.
Arnakak admired firefighters while growing up.
“I looked up to all the firefighters because I wanted to become one,” he says.
In his time with the department, he’s yet to be engaged in a structural fire, but he has had to help extinguish two blazes involving snowmobiles.
He’s also been among the volunteers who go into the the local school to provide students with tips on fire prevention. Always having a fire extinguisher ready for use and ensuring fire alarms are working properly in one’s home and workplace are among the recommendations that he makes regularly, he says.
Clyde River is one of four Nunavut communities that recently inherited a used ambulance donated by the Peel Region of Ontario. The emergency vehicle arrived by sealift a few weeks ago.
“I’m excited. I think it’s going to be pretty useful for the community,” Arnakak says of the ambulance.
The fire department has obtained a lottery licence to raise money to help cover costs to pay for some needed equipment for the ambulance.
Firefighter training to use the emergency vehicle is ongoing.
“I’m always on call and we try to do the training every week, but I’m always on duty,” Arnakak says of his readiness to respond to a crisis.