Stolen glow-in-the-dark equipment led to arrests: Saskatchewan fire chief

The fire chief in Canora, Sask., said the equipment recovered by RCMP includes three brand-new breathing apparatuses and uniforms. Canora & District Fire Department / Supplied

Police say they recovered over $40,000 worth of firefighting equipment and charged two people for theft in a Saskatchewan town last month.

Canora & District Fire Department chief Devon Sawka said the recovered items included uniforms and three brand-new self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).

“The police acted so quickly and so diligently that I would say these guys maybe had it in their possession for 15 minutes by the time they were caught,” Canora & District Fire Department chief Devon Sawka said on Friday.

“And that was would have been just enough time to walk from … the north side of Canora to closer to the south end.”

Two Canora RCMP officers’ said they were on routine patrol when coming across “suspicious” activity near the local fire hall on the evening of Nov. 27, according to a press release.

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“One of the individuals was seen walking down the road wearing our SCBA and they glow in the dark and the RCMP on their patrol noticed this glow in the dark and pursued it. They arrested one individual wearing one of our SCBAs and then later located where they stored the rest of them,” Sawka said.

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“Honestly, it’s one of those things like when you see world’s dumbest criminals on TV. Like you’re walking around in the middle of the night, pitch black outside, wearing a glow-in-the-dark green cylinder.”

The accused, aged 21 and 35, were charged with break and enter and theft over $5,000, according to RCMP.

Sawka didn’t know what the fire hall would have done that night if the equipment had not been recovered.

“These guys did make entry and did remove the stuff from the fire hall and … this really would have hindered us from helping somebody,” Sawka said.

“Imagine if we had a fire call that night and our breathing apparatuses were gone and there was somebody in that house. How do we go in there to get them out? … (SCBAs) enable us to go into the fires and supply us with oxygen.”

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Only two fire helmets were not recovered, according to police.

The chief said theft hasn’t been a large issue lately, but they’ve stepped up security at the fire hall.

“I know many, many, many years ago, we did have a fire truck stolen from the fire hall but that was probably about 25 years ago, maybe longer,” Sawka said.

“We have all brand new locking system and camera system now in the fire hall … it’s pretty sad that we have to do that as a fire department,” Sawka said.

Canora & District Fire Department offers fire suppression to the town and three rural municipalities (RMs).

“Canora has roughly a population of roughly a base of about 2,200 but as a fire department, we look after all of RM of Good Lake, three divisions in Sliding Hills, two divisions in the RM of keys. We look after Good Spirit Lake. We look after all the resort communities. So we have a rather large area that we provide services to,” Sawka said.

“We run 23 (volunteer) firefighters … ranging in age from 17 years old, up to 58.”

Canora is roughly 305 kilometres east of Saskatoon.

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