Community Fire Protection project a 2-year partnership with Northern Cheyenne

March 14, 2016
Submitted by Laurie Day
Assistant Director of Mission & Ministry

Continuing last week's story about Native American Ministries Sunday supporting the Northern Cheyenne fire protection project, the Rocky Mountain Conference announces the launch of its Community Fire Protection Partnership with the Northern Cheyenne. This partnership has been developing over the past decades as members of the Committee on Native American Ministries have worked with descendants of the Sand Creek Massacre on the Sand Creed Massacre Spiritual Healing Run and other initiatives. Increasing firefighting capacity, fire prevention, and relationship building are the focus areas of the Community Fire Protection project over the next two years. 
Volunteers in Mission teams will work in partnership with Northern Cheyenne volunteer firefighters and community members to build fire garages in the different communities on the reservation. This will increase their firefighting capacity by decentralizing and protecting firefighting equipment, increasing support for local community firefighting, and decreasing response times to fires. The first Volunteers in Mission team will take place at the end of July this year.

Fire prevention is a responsible component to any fire protection plan. Beginning in 2017, church volunteers and members of the Northern Cheyenne community will team up to address two significant causes of fires on the Northern Cheyenne reservation – abandoned houses and lack of a defensible space around structures. Most structure fires on the Northern Cheyenne reservation are in abandoned houses that owners are no longer able to maintain because of needed costly repairs. The other key piece to fire prevention is creating a defensible space that is clear of brush and other debris to act as a barrier between a structure and an advancing fire.
Intentional relationship building between the Northern Cheyenne and Rocky Mountain Conference is an ongoing value of the Community Fire Protection project. During 2017 educational immersion opportunities for families, youth and adults will be offered. This will include a conference-wide youth education and service project to the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in the summer of 2017 and opportunities for families, youth and adults to learn about Northern Cheyenne history, culture and people by participating in activities with the Northern Cheyenne community.

The Community Fire Protection project emerges out of a desire to have an intentional long-term relationship between The United Methodist Church and the Northern Cheyenne that is based on education, volunteering, and mutual sharing. The priorities of the Community Fire Protection project came to light during a visit to the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana to see the newly purchased fire engine and learn about additional opportunities for collaboration.

Watch for newsletter articles in the next three weeks for more specific information about opportunities for families, youth and adults to actively participate in the Community Fire Protection project. 

April 10 is Native American Ministries Sunday where United Methodists celebrate ministries with Native Americans and collect offerings to support the Church’s work with Native Americans. One half of the Rocky Mountain Conference offering will support the Northern Cheyenne Fire Protection project and the other half will equip and empower Native American pastors, congregations, and seminary students through the general United Methodist Church.  Additional donations to support the Community Fire Protection project can be sent to the Rocky Mountain Conference designated for “Northern Cheyenne Fire Protection”. Thank you for your support and generosity!