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From the Floor

From the Floor

As RCMP Const. David Wynn is remembered in St. Albert, Atla., blogger Jay Shaw thanks police officers for what they do: "I'm just so damn tired of cops getting shot," he says.

Fitsmart: January 2015

Fitsmart: January 2015

It’s a well-known fact that exercise makes us happier. But the feeling, at times, is short lived if you wake up so sore you have to peel yourself out of bed, writes Brad Lawrence.

Dispatches

Dispatches

Blogger Jennifer Grigg responded to a snowmobile accident on the weekend. As Grigg writes, the incident showed her that there is something to be learned from every call, but in the end, it's all about teamwork.

WellBeing: January 2015

WellBeing: January 2015

Did you know that cabbage is the new kale, and that broccoli is back in style? By Elias Markou

Tim-Bits: January 2015

Tim-Bits: January 2015

Positive-pressure ventilation is meant to be an active, sequential process – it is not just setting a fan in a door and letting it blow inside. By Tim Llewellyn

Jan. 20, 2015, Winnipeg - I know a few cops and, in general, I will always defend my opinion that cops are kind of cliquish, even more so than us. They’re a tight bunch, and rarely let anyone into their inner sanctuary, preferring to keep their blue brotherhood under guarded care. I get it, because I understand the job. Police are rarely celebrated when they arrive on scene. Usually, 50 per cent of the folks on scene are the problem, and, in some cases, everyone is. When the fire truck shows up, we’re usually greeted with some kind of statement of support, sincerity, and thankfulness. Police not so much. Now police officers get a bad rap because they enforce the law; when we break it, we’re obviously in the right, and the officer is out to lunch. Sound familiar? That’s a stupid law. I barely touched the guy. I only had seven beers and I’m fine! Imagine going to work when everyone and their cousin believe you to be doing a crappy job, for the most part, all of the time. Imagine getting spit on, or having children speak to you disrespectfully because they were raised to mistrust you. As firefighters, we wear the negative stuff and chew on it for a while, swallow it down deep and try to bury it. We’ve all seen stuff; stuff that we didn’t talk about at our spouses’ Christmas parties last month. We seem to understand and can relate to how police deal with the pain in their own souls that can start to wear on you. The real problem I have been dealing with lately is the lack of understanding, the hatred, the ignorance of what is really happening. Police deal with saving souls, and while firefighters do as well, I would gladly admit that firefighters deal with the misfortunes of life inflicted on folks from a perspective of non-culpability. A lot of the time, when we arrive, it is no ones fault. Fault creates blame, blame creates anger, and anger fuels the demons inside of us. When choices are made by people who are desperate, have lost hope, and have sunken to a depth at which point, in their own minds, committing a crime is the way out, you’ve now arrived at evil. And cops are in the business of dealing with evil like nobody’s business. Firefighters deal with evil but not anywhere near as much as those sworn to protect us from it. Society is changing before me; statistics may support the theories of a declining crime rate, but I believe the people that reach evil are in large parts more desperate, determined, and internally conflicted with rage and hatred toward us. We can argue until the cows come home about the differences between cops and firefighters; we can have our jokes, good-natured ribbings, and laughs at each other expense. But in the end, I want every police officer to know from coast to coast that I get it, I understand you, and I support you in your efforts to protect my family and the citizens in your care. I’m just so damn tired of cops getting shot, and I wanted to say thank you, and never give up. *Carousel photo from Flickr by Robert TaylorJay Shaw is a firefighter and primary-care paramedic with the City of Winnipeg. Along with multiple fire and emergency services courses and certificates, Jay holds a master's degree in disaster and Emergency management from Royal Roads University and is an independent education and training consultant focusing on leadership, management, emergency preparedness and communication skills. Contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and follow him on Twitter @firecollege
Jan. 20, 2015, Port Severn, Ont. - For those who love to snowmobile, my township is a mecca for it. I myself am an avid sledder who lives for the weekends when my husband, two daughters and I can take off for the day with friends. On the weekend, we were about 20 minutes away from home doing some running around when the call came across the pager for a snowmobile accident. I don’t think we’ve ever left Walmart that fast before. Due to our location, we were unable to hear the entire page so I sent a text message to another firefighter for more details. He called me right away and advised that the accident involved a two-year-old. He also let me know he wouldn’t be responding as he was at the hospital visiting his wife (the same woman that I’d written about in an earlier blog). I then sent a text to another firefighter that I thought would be responding, to let him know that we were 20 minutes out. We often don’t have sufficient manpower on the weekends and so many of us keep in touch via text messages when a call comes in; especially when the three of us that live closest to the hall were all out of town at the time. This makes me think of the new dispatch systems that are available for volunteer departments that show who is responding and from where via text or email, and how beneficial that system would have been that day. However, you work with what you’ve got and I was able to let someone at the hall know that we were on our way. My husband Earl and I then started talking logistics. Our dispatch was trying to arrange transportation out to the call, but was having no luck with the local marinas after contacting three of them. Earl and I discussed whether we should go home and get our sleds, or go straight to the hall. We listened to the radio transmissions while en route and heard that the Ontario provincial police were responding on sleds with a 20-minute ETA so we knew there were at least two sleds available. We then heard our district chief radio that the rescue truck was out of service and they were responding the pumper with three. The decision was made to go straight to the hall and my husband was able to get the rescue truck running. The rescue boggen was loaded into the back and we responded with three, while I shouted at my two daughters to close the bay door as we left them at the fire hall. We dropped our captain at his house to grab his sled in case another one was needed, and continued to the call. When we arrived at the staging area, a crew of three firefighters had already responded to the scene and the police officers were waiting to take Earl and I out. Our captain, who is a paramedic, arrived at the same time on his own sled and followed us out to the call.The patient had lost control of his brand-new sled and rolled it. He was complaining of back and shoulder pain and was clearly in agony. He was collared, boarded and loaded into a Stokes basket in the rescue boggan for the long, slow ride back to the staging area and a waiting ambulance. One of the firefighters rode with him in the boggan and said that the poor guy howled in pain most of the way back. It was by no means a gentle ride over the snow, but there was no other way to transport him. It did, however, get us talking about ways to make it a smoother ride for the next unfortunate person. We’re now looking at putting foam in the bottom of our three rescue boggans to provide a bit of a smoother ride. There is something to be learned from every call; ways to do things better, easier, more efficiently or more effectively. But in the end, it’s all about teamwork. And the two-year-old? We have no idea what that was all about but were all relieved to find out that there wasn’t one involved. Jennifer Grigg has been a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario since 1997. Email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and follow her on Twitter at @georgianbayjen
Jan. 14, 2015, Prince Albert, Sask. – There is much truth to the saying that time does not stand still. Embarrassingly, it has been a couple of months since I sat down to blog. In October, our son bought a house and took possession of it on Nov. 1. The home required some (a nice understatement) renovations before he could move in and with four weeks to plan before the possession date, we thought we were on top of things. As I write this I am chuckling; renovations remind me a lot of leadership and how we think we are on top of things, yet reality gives us a good kick in the butt and we find out that we miscalculated on our plans. To make light of our renovation journey and the realities of being a leader in the fire service, I present a simple renovation/leadership analogy. Have a vision: I truly believe that when beginning the renovation journey you must be able to see in your minds eye what the final product will look like. As leadership guru Stephen Covey often said, “Start with the end in mind.” Sounds simple right? Well, not so fast. Unfortunately, when you have two or three people with different ideas on what the house should look like, it causes nothing but stress and communication breakdowns. At times I swear it was like negotiating and trying to find common ground. And, now that I think of it, at the end when we all agreed on the vision, it was very easy to move forward and start the work. Communicate regularly: I know, I know, this is a simple leadership practice and a no brainer, but when the family is taking shifts demolishing, rebuilding, painting, laying floor, etc., it’s easy to get caught up in the action and forget to communicate effectively. It’s no secret that when communication breaks down the project plan is difficult to follow and, somewhere along the renovation journey, somebody forgets to communicate a key message, and then comes the big surprise. Oh yes, the big surprise. If you have been involved in renovations you know exactly what I am talking about. This reminds me of some of the whooper communication breakdowns I was involved in as a fire chief. Looking back, when people are busy, it's easy to forget to communicate a key message. This doesn’t excuse the oversight, but because we are human it just happens sometimes. Not unlike renovations, in leadership it's critical to communicate daily and let everyone know how the day’s activities will take you closer to your vision. Expect setbacks: Ouch, I hated even typing that but setbacks are a fact of life. Plans do not always go as intended and when you start tearing things apart, you often find something else that needs replacing or repairing. A call to a plumber to check out the furnace resulted in scheduling a new furnace installation. It really wasn’t a big surprise, but it did have an impact to the renovation budget and some adjustments had to be made. This really isn’t any different than being a leader in the fire service. There are going to be setbacks, some of them minor, some of them major, and some of them just because you have ventured into the realm of leadership and the old furnace simply isn’t efficient any longer and needs to be replaced. Keep moving forward: I must confess that there were some days when I would ask myself, “What the heck was I thinking?” Hey, a father’s job is to be there for his kids, but the stretch of 14-hour days caught up quickly and when every room in the house needed work, it sure felt like the project scope grew and the end was nowhere to be found. It didn’t matter how many hours were put into the renovations, it just seemed like we were not making any headway. There were certainly frustrating periods on the renovations, but we kept moving forward and little by little we were getting closer to the vision. Take some time off: For many of us, this is a big hurdle in our lives, however, the importance of just getting away for a while cannot be overstated. When I found that going to my son’s house was not fun anymore, I took several days off. It was hard because I knew how much work was left to do and that we still had a long way to go before the inside of the house actually looked like a house. But, the time away was great for the soul and when I started to work on the house again, it was fun! There is a nice leadership lesson there, and upon reflection, I wish I took more time away from the chief’s office and made it a goal to recharge my batteries. The renovations are almost complete and it has certainly been a journey for our family. There is still some work to do but just like with leadership, it’s not in arriving at the destination, it’s all about the journey and the journey is truly what we make of it. Les Karpluk is the retired fire chief of the Prince Albert Fire Department in Saskatchewan. He is a graduate of the Lakeland College Bachelor of Business in Emergency Services program and Dalhousie University’s Fire Administration and Fire Service Leadership programs. Follow Les on Twitter at @GenesisLes
Jan. 14, 2015, Beamsville, Ont. - Hey, I made through another holiday season relatively unscathed. We had 14 relatives over for Christmas dinner, and we are all still speaking to each other. This is good! I hope you also made it through without too many bumps and bruises. Despite the holidays, the tones still go off and you still respond to help others. That’s what you do, you help those in need; be it a medical run, an MVA or a structure fire, the Canadian fire service is well trained and well equipped to do just that - help those in need. In the aftermath of all the holiday activities you should have a sense of satisfaction and pride for the job you do. (Cumulative satisfaction comes to mind. It is a term you might want to Google.) While not taking anything away from your training and equipment, you still need to accept that you may get hurt on the job. Once you leave the station, anything can happen. In fact studies show that first responders have a one-in-five chance of being hurt or killed on the job in any given year. First responders, along with members of the military, belong to the most dangerous and stressful occupations one can have. As first responders, you are often exposed to potentially traumatic situations. Frequent exposure to these situations places you at risk of developing critical incident/post-traumatic and/or cumulative stress issues. Recent studies show that upwards of 70 per cent of Canadian workers have expressed a degree of concern with psychological health and safety in the workplace. The world can be a scary place and can challenge your basic life assumptions, assumptions that: You are safe Life is fair and equitable You are a good person It’s the disruption of basic life assumptions that cause unexpected stress and moral injury. As first responders, post-traumatic stress is a work-related injury we need to be aware of; it affects many systems – physiological, neurological (as well as neuro-chemical), cognitive, behavioural, emotional, social, psychological, and spiritual. Signs to watch for may include hyper-alertness, irritability, emotional outbursts, frustration and anger, loss of attention, loss of concentration, depression, substance abuse, excessive activity and facial tremors. Without becoming overly fixated on the side effects, as first responders, you need to be cognizant of any issues that could affect your performance on the fire ground. If you are experiencing any of these feelings, don’t hesitate to share them with a loved one or with a buddy you trust. You’re not weak and you’re not losing it, you just may need a little ‘decon’. It’s a new year. Yes, the calls will keep coming and yes, people will do things that don’t always make sense, but that’s part of life for first responders. Civilians know that when things go south there is always 911. That’s where you come in: you arrive with your big shiny piece of firefighting and life-saving equipment, lights and sirens blazing, and you do what you do so well – fight fires and save lives. Just don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. Bruce Lacillade is retired from the Burlington Fire Department in Ontario, where he spent 10 years on the floor as a firefighter and the next 15 years as an inspector in fire prevention. He’s also a U.S. Navy veteran and the chaplain for the American Legion in Ontario and the United Council of Veterans (Hamilton and area). Bruce helps first responders, military personnel, veterans, and their families deal with what he calls moral injuries, or internal conflicts. Contact Bruce at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Jan. 7, 2015, Port Severn, Ont. - The pager went off around 3:30 p.m. yesterday for a single-vehicle accident while I was working away at my desk. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I actually took the time to change my shoes before heading across the parking lot to the fire hall. I took off my heels and put on my thick socks and big winter boots, my parka, and my pink fire toque. It was way too cold out there to run across to the fire hall in heels or without a coat. Because of the time of day, I also grabbed my mitts and my purse so I wouldn’t have to go back to the office after the call. With the wind howling and snow blowing in my face, it was an effort to hold my coat together and hang on to my pager, mitts and purse at the same time. The fire prevention officer (FPO) and bylaw officer (who is also a firefighter) work in the fire hall and they had come down from their offices to meet me in the truck bays. We geared up and got in the rescue truck. After waiting for a couple of minutes, no one else showed up so we responded with three. The highway was slick and the flurries had just started again. It was not long before we came across a couple of vehicles pulled over on the side of the highway, and the FPO radioed to dispatch to let them know we had arrived on scene. I jumped out of the back of the rescue and approached a woman standing at the back of the vehicles. The woman, who was a passerby, advised me that the patient was still in her vehicle and that she had instructed her to remain in her seat and not move until help arrived. The driver, she said, had lost control, spun out and hit the guardrail. Fortunately, the car ended up on the side of the road and not in the ditch. The paramedics arrived on scene as well so I gave them a quick update and assisted them with patient care. I got in the back seat of the car to do c-spine while the paramedics collared the woman and put a Kendrick Extrication Device (KED) on her before they removed her to a backboard and stretcher. While in the car with the patient, she apologized for troubling us. I told her not to worry, and that we were there to help. She went on to ask me if the woman that had stopped to help her was one of our people. I told her that I thought she was just a kind passerby and not a member of our fire department. The patient was very appreciative of the woman’s help and kindness. Once we had packaged the patient, the paramedics asked her if there was someone they could contact for her. Her answer was: “Nope, there’s no one.” My heart sank. All I knew about the woman was where she was from, because I had heard her tell the paramedics; I did not even get her name, which I normally do, but had not in this case because the paramedics were already talking with her when I got in the car to help. The patient was then loaded in the ambulance, and that was the last I saw of her. As I walked back to our truck, I stopped by the passerby in her car. She opened her door and I said, “I just wanted to let you know that the lady really appreciated you helping her and she had asked me if you were a member of our department because you were very good.” Her eyes welled up with tears and she put her a hand on her chest as said, “Oh my goodness. Thank you for telling me.” I wish I could have done more for the patient, whose name I do not know. But at least her comments did not fall upon deaf ears and I was able to deliver the message to the person who deserved to hear it. As first responders, we rarely hear about the people whose lives intersect with ours once a call is over. It is kind of sad, in a way, but that is not why we were there in the first place. Our role in all of this is not to provide the aftercare, or be involved in the follow up; our job is, as first response to the call, to provide the initial care, and do it with kindness and compassion. Jennifer Grigg has been a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario since 1997. Email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and follow her on Twitter at @georgianbayjen
Dec. 24, 2014, Redwood Meadows, Alta. - Fire fighting, like most of life, is full of milestones. Along the way are the challenges you will encounter and how you deal with these experiences helps too mould you as the firefighter that you become over time. This starts the day you fill out the application form and continues until the day you get the axe – I mean the retirement-presentation axe, or if you have made really poor decisions I guess it could be THE axe.
Dec. 24, 2014, Beamsville, Ont. - I sat the other morning in the Village of Beamsville enjoying a coffee and watching the changing sky. I realized this was no longer a summer sky, nor even a fall sky. The sky and its cloud formations were now a winter sky. I consider us blessed to live in a part of the world that has four seasons. With each new season I look forward to the activities the season will bring.
Editor’s note: Timing is everything; when Bruce Lacillade approached Fire Fighting in Canada about writing a blog that focuses on mental and spiritual health, people were talking about suicides among first responders, and the most stressful time of year – Christmas – was just around the corner. Bruce is retired from the Burlington Fire Department in Ontario, where he spent 10 years on the floor as a firefighter and the next 15 years as an inspector in fire prevention. He’s also a U.S. Navy veteran and the chaplain for the American Legion in Ontario and the United Council of Veterans (Hamilton and area). Bruce helps first responders, military personnel, veterans, and their families deal with what he calls moral injuries, or internal conflicts. Dec. 23, 2014, Beamsville, Ont. – As first responders many of your everyday line-of-duty experiences are outside that which is considered normal by most people. You often see people on the worst days of their lives and the accompanying carnage can leave a lasting impression on you. Further, first responders sometimes tend to blame themselves for the things they have had to witness or perform in the line-of-duty. Memories of some calls or incidents cause many responders to suffer anxiety and anguish. This is normal; humans are prone to suffering. These memories, however, can create what is referred to as a moral injury – your conscience is troubled, your fundamental understanding of right and wrong may be violated, you can feel as if you have witnessed or fallen prey to a moral transgression. However, you are not weak and you are not losing it; you have been wounded by your attempts to help others. In essence, you have been injured in the line of duty. As firefighters, we have been trained in fire science and fire attack; we have been equipped with turnout gear and BAs. But what about our psyches? We all have our ups and downs; we all experience joy, fear, guilt/shame and even sometimes rage – the whole gamut of emotions. Are we properly equipped with personal protective equipment for our mental health? In subsequent blogs we will look at some of these issues a little more closely. In the interim, let us remember to breathe – taking a few deep and calming breaths never hurt anyone. We all know how important proper and timely ventilation can be at a fire; well, we need to breathe to release the heat and pressure that sometimes builds up inside of us. Sharing with your spouse or partner is also very important – you’re in this together. And remember to eat. I don’t know too many first responders who do not work hard, play hard, and eat hard. Yet when we are stressed, we sometimes forget to eat. Eat well-balanced meals, not just junk food – our bodies need nutrition to heal from stressful events. When I was younger and still on-the-job, I thought beer and wings were one of the major food groups. Apparently, I was wrong; we also need fruit and vegetables. Go figure. Contact Bruce at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Dec. 19, 2014, Port Severn, Ont. – The other day I paged out at 6:45 a.m. for a multi-vehicle collision (MVC), and got back to the hall at 7:50 a.m. I had to be at work for 8:30 a.m. I technically only had to walk across the parking lot to get to work, but I don’t think my boss would have appreciated me showing up in sweat pants, a hoody, my big winter boots and a toque. Although that is common attire for late-night or early-morning fire calls, I don’t think it is acceptable in the office. The injuries to the lone occupant involved in the MVC were minor; lucky for him and a bonus for us because we were not there for long. Once we put the med bag back in order and returned to the hall, I ran home (not literally ¬– I don’t run anywhere) in order to get ready for work. I managed to make it to work only 10 minutes late, which was great, but I definitely required a coffee to get my head in gear. I will admit that I was in a bit of a fog without my morning java. It’s a good thing I have patient co-workers. That same day, I had to leave work early to get my hockey-playing daughter to the doctor’s office in order to be cleared to return to hockey following a slight concussion. My husband called as my daughter and I were returning from her appointment. Since I have Bluetooth in my car, my daughter and I both answered when the phone rang. We joked around and tried to talk at the same time. My husband cut us off by eagerly asked where we were, to which we both answered at the same time again. (We didn’t clue in right away to the serious tone in his voice.) It turned out that a good friend and neighbour of ours ¬¬– who is a fellow firefighter’s wife – fell and had possibly broken her femur. Her husband (the firefighter) was home with her when it happened and knew right away that it was serious. He called 911 and requested fire with the ambulance so that he could get her onto a backboard because she was lying on the ground and he could not move her on his own. My husband called our neighbour him at the same time that he was on the other line with 911. When he learned what had happened, my husband, who was about 20 minutes away, called me to see if I was closer. I was about seven minutes away and said I’d go straight there. My phone rang right after I had hung up with my husband. It was the firefighter calling. “Are you bringing the rescue?” he asked me frantically. “No, we haven’t gotten paged out, but I’m on my way in my car.” “I need the rescue. I need the backboard. I can’t move her on my own. I asked for fire. Why haven’t they paged it out yet?” “I’ll go to the hall and call it in myself. I’ll be there as soon as I can.” We arrived at the hall and my daughter and I ran in. When I tried to call the firefighter back to get his house number, the line was busy. My daughter was on her phone before I knew it, calling another neighbour to get the address. Smart kid I got there. I radioed our dispatch. No answer. I keyed the mic to call them again and heard the tones go out as another firefighter ran into the hall. My husband had called him too, trying to find someone close to bring the truck. When we pulled up on scene at our fellow firefighter’s house, we grabbed the backboard and ran over to him and his wife. I knelt down beside her and almost cried. That’s only ever happened to me when something has happened to one of my daughters. I am OK with medical calls, until it’s one of my kids or a loved one from my fire-service family. I quickly choked back the emotions and saw my fellow firefighter do the same. The three of us carefully positioned my neighbour’s wife and got the board underneath her. Paramedics arrived not long after and took over patient care. “Thanks for coming, guys,” the firefighter said as the paramedics loaded his wife into the ambulance. “It felt like forever.” That was one of the hardest calls to which I have responded. It was bound to happen sooner or later since we live in such a small community. When it is one of your own you are helping, it really tugs at the heartstrings. We offered to drive the firefighter’s vehicle to the hospital for him so that he could go with his wife in the ambulance. It was the least we could do. “Call us if you need anything at all,” we told him. He called later with an update and asked us if we could feed his dog because he didn’t know when he would get home. “No problem,” I told him, and took my youngest daughter with me to feed the dog. When we got there and let the dog outside, he walked right to the spot where his owner had been laying on the ground a couple of hours earlier. I told my daughter about it and we watched him sniff around the ground in that exact area. Then he sat down in the same spot, looked down the driveway, and waited. Tell me that does not get you. We are all in this together. Jennifer Grigg has been a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario since 1997. Email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and follow her on Twitter at @georgianbayjen
Dec. 15, 2014, Port Severn, Ont. – There’s a quote often misattributed to William Shakespeare: The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. Many of us have discovered our gifts through the fire service; we give those gifts away by attending the emergencies to which we are called. Our gifts are evident in the way we treat patients and their concerned family members during medical calls, in our efforts to extricate and treat people involved in collisions as quickly and safely as we can, or in the way we organize and deploy equipment and manpower to contain and extinguish fires and protect homes and property from further damage. When we’re out in our communities, providing life-saving fire prevention education to the children in the schools and the residents in our neighbourhoods, we’re also giving our gifts. Sometimes, during our service, we are forced realize that life is about much more than just us. When we lose someone on whom we’ve feverishly done CPR while waiting for the paramedics to arrive and provide further treatment, we’re affected. When we try to console family members but find that our words offer little consolation, we feel helpless. When we’ve witnessed a child with a life-threatening injury, it weighs heavily on us; we go home and hug our children, hold them tighter and say a silent prayer of thanksgiving for their safety. Witnessing the devastation of people’s homes and lives after a fire makes us appreciate what we have. These situations cause us to stop and reflect on the important things in life; our families, our spouses, our children, and our brothers and sisters in the fire service with whom we’ve just gone through a tough experience. These are the things that really matter in life. A line-of-duty death gets everyone’s attention; no matter what’s going on in your life, when you see a post on social media, or hear about it from other members in the fire service, it makes you pause and reflect. Honestly, it makes most people pause for a moment, but the response is deeper than that for firefighters; it affects us on a visceral level. It hits home. No matter where the firefighter is from and no matter where we live, we all feel it. We know it could have been one of us or one of our brothers or sisters in our department, or someone we know on another department. We empathize with fellow firefighters as they grieve the loss of one of their own. How could it not hit home? We put ourselves in the place of the firefighter who died. What a terrifying thought. We’ve pretty well all been in a situation, at one time or another, that had the potential to turn out that way. And just when the fear of that moment and the realization of the potential danger in which we’re putting ourselves starts to sink in, you remember that you possess something more powerful than fear: you remember that we’re here to serve, and we’ve been incredibly blessed to discover a gift in ourselves that not everyone has. It’s a unique breed of people who have a passion for the fire service. We all have our unique gifts to share, and being a member of the fire service is ours. None of us knows when our time will come. Therefore, we should strive to share our gifts as genuinely and as often as we can. You know you are always a firefighter, whether you’re on duty or not; remember that when you go about your day, no matter where you are or what you are doing. Let everyone who crosses your path benefit from what you have to share. Give away that gift of yours. Jennifer Grigg has been a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario since 1997. Email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and follow her on Twitter at @georgianbayjen
Dec. 5, 2014, Winnipeg – Darius is my new hero. Truth be told, I didn’t even know the kid before his babysitter and this little man showed up at my fire station; the young woman, all bundled up for a Winterpeg day, rang the fire-hall doorbell and I happened to be right there. I answered the door and the woman asked if she and her young charge could see a fire truck. I looked down and there was this bright, smiley-faced kid that I put at about three years of age. As I started to say, “Sure come on in,” the kid ker-klonked right by me, snow boots on and all. He loves fire trucks his babysitter said. For the next 15 minutes, Darius and I talked about the job in a way that I’ve never had the pleasure to do with a four year old. You see, Darius will be a firefighter but he can’t apply now because he is only four, he informed me. He told me with certainty that when he is maybe 20 he can drive the truck. Darius and I talked about hoses and water supply, as he did not know that the fire truck had water in it already, explaining to me that firefighters get the water from the hydrants. It was quite apparent that this child had had someone in the family read to him about the fire service. I asked some more questions to find out if Darius had a relative on the job, but it did not seem like it. Darius will be our future. Darius will be a first-generation firefighter when he is 20, and, until that time, I will do my best to keep the job moving along so when it is his time to take over the reins, the job will still be the same magical place for him as it is for me now. For the rest of the day I felt invigorated and happy to serve, and Darius was the reason I felt this way; it was a quick reminder of the importance of what we do. Every day in the media we seem to see stories of public emergency services under some sort of attack – budget cuts here, firefighters doing this over there, and horrifically sad stories everywhere. It can get to you some times, and I will admit that there are days that the seed of complacency could be planted. It takes a good fire – which sounds awful but you now exactly what I mean – or a great save to really appreciate how lucky we are to do this for a living. That same day we had that good fire in the middle of the afternoon at which the crew pulled together and made a really good stop on a dirty basement fire – high heat, lots of smoke and all in -25 C conditions makes for a stellar afternoon. There were no injuries and we were all thankful for the chance to practise our trade under really challenging conditions. Right after the fire I had to get to my kid’s hockey practice; I am now the head coach of a group of 13-year-old boys. Several of the other coaches and a few mothers commented on how I smelled like a bonfire, even though I had had a quick shower. I informed them that I had just come from work. Suddenly the atmosphere in the room changed and parents were now looking at me funny. One dad said, “Wow I can’t believe you guys do that.” But all I could think about was how in 16 years I hope I am still on the job so I may have a chance to fight a fire with Darius.When Darius left the fire hall, I loaded him up with fire-prevention colouring books and a stuffed fire dog and I asked him in front of his babysitter to tell his folks to check his smoke alarms. She smiled at me and knew I was really talking to her. I have to keep this kid safe for a few more years until he can drive me around on the truck. Jay Shaw is a firefighter and primary-care paramedic with the City of Winnipeg. Along with multiple fire and emergency services courses and certificates, Jay holds a master's degree in disaster and Emergency management from Royal Roads University and is an independent education and training consultant focusing on leadership, management, emergency preparedness and communication skills. Contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and follow him on Twitter @firecollege*Carousel photo from Flickr by Michael Himbeault
Nov. 28, 2014, Toronto – It was, perhaps, a bit of much-needed closure for Paul Officer when Elliot Lake inquiry commissioner Paul Belanger said on Oct. 15 that the chief’s submission to the Ontario Awards for Firefighter Bravery should proceed. “These awards should wait no longer,” Belanger said. “Those commendations are richly deserved.” If I’m reading the tea leaves correctly, there was some scrambling in the last five weeks to ensure that the three Elliot Lake Fire Department members who went back into the collapsed Algo Centre mall on June 23, 2012, to search for anyone trapped in the rubble, received their medals last night at Queen’s Park. Chief Officer’s long-ago submission had been put on hold until after Belanger completed his report from the inquiry into the collapsed mall and the emergency response to it. Belanger’s words, written in his lengthy report and also spoken solemnly and clearly in the auditorium at the Lester B. Pearson Civic Centre in Elliot Lake, were applauded – the only applause, and certainly one of the only pleasant moments, during the hour-long news conference after the document was released. Captains John Thomas and Ken Barnes, and firefighter Adam Vance were honoured at the legislature last evening for their willingness to do everything they could to extend the search for anyone trapped in the mall, for their courage and compassion. (You can read more about the ceremony and the recipients here, and browse a gallery of photos from the event here.) Thirteen other firefighters, from Mississauga, Kenora, and Shebandowan, and six police officers from Niagara, Toronto and the OPP, also received medals from Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi. The ceremony was formal and elegant and by invitation only. For whatever reason, the government chose to keep the names of the recipients quiet until 6 p.m. last night, so I smiled when I saw on Facebook shortly after 7 a.m. yesterday that the proud sister of Elliot Lake Capt. Thomas, had posted congratulations, hours before Queen’s Park did so. For the firefighters from Mississauga and Kenora and Shebandowan, the remarkable acts of bravery for which they were honoured – rescuing trapped and injured colleagues from a burning warehouse (“Your son helped to save my life,” I overheard one Mississauga firefighter, still on crutches from the April 23 incident, tell the dad of one of the honourees last night), rescuing a woman from a house fire, and rescuing a couple from Shebandowan Lake – will likely stick with them as tests of character, strength and teamwork and memories of high-risk and terrifying jobs well done, of positive outcomes. John Thomas, Ken Barnes and Adam Vance had no idea on the afternoon of Saturday, June 23, 2012, while they were doing their jobs and attempting the impossible – to find and save anyone who had been trapped – the same way any one of you would have, that they would later endure a media circus, public derision in the community in which they work and live, and a seven-month inquiry. I was at the ceremony, thanks to some good people who did some good things to secure me a place at Chief Officer’s table, with Vance and his family, and next to Barnes and Thomas and his Cape Breton contingent. As Chief Officer said to me last week, “It will be nice that you can see the guys get over the finish line with a smile.” Indeed it was.
It’s a well-known fact that exercise makes us happier. But the feeling, at times, is short lived if you wake up so sore you have to peel yourself out of bed. This unfortunate phenomenon is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
Did you know that cabbage is the new kale, and that broccoli is back in style? I wanted to kick off the new year with a fun discussion about vegetables. Many of you woke up on Jan. 2 and probably made a few weight-loss and diet resolutions. If we have this discussion on dieting a few weeks from now, I won’t be surprised to find a few of you have already moved on to sugar and muffins. I want to expand this discussion about food into an inspirational talk about the power of vegetables. Don’t think of this shift to vegetables as another weight-loss diet; rather, look at it as the right way to eat as the human species. I can already hear the moans and groans. If you’ve ever questioned the power of what we choose to put in our bodies daily, then you need to read on. I just might make a believer out of you.
Your home is warm and comfortable this time of year, but that means it’s difficult to set down the hot chocolate and motivate yourself to work out. There are plenty of outdoor winter activities that keep us fit, but the time and effort of layering up doesn’t always seem worth the result, even if we know it makes us feel better. Luckily, you don’t have to leave the comforts of home to have a great workout; and you don’t need specialized equipment, just a little ingenuity.
I’ve been editing this magazine for almost eight years. When I started in April 2007, I read mountains of material about fire and fire fighting and technology. Back then, there was talk of new, lightweight construction materials – floor joists and roof trusses that burn faster and collapse more quickly than legacy-style construction.
Writer’s block, as you know, affects writers from time to time, and I seemed to be afflicted with it right about the time that this column was due. I started it and restarted it a couple of times, getting no further than a word or two.
Does this sound possible in your department: a potentially missed mayday call; a firefighter who is unaccounted for; an over-stressed and taxed incident commander; stimulation overload; un-manageable multi-tasking; or bad radio communication? Any one of these situations sounds possible, right? How does this type of fire-ground environment sound instead: a mayday managed quickly and safely; all firefighters accounted for; stress under control; improved situational awareness; efficient operations; and fail-safe communication. Let’s look at how to make this a reality.
When I first started volunteering as a firefighter I remember hearing words such as “ten-oh-one,” “NFPA,” “IFSAC,” and “Pro Board” thrown around, but I had no idea what they meant or how they applied to me. As I spent more time in the fire service and progressed in my training, I slowly began to understand the jargon and which organizations do what, but it wasn’t until I got serious about obtaining my NFPA 1001 certification that I made a solid effort to figure out how all these organizations relate to each other. The details are very confusing and it took me a long time to unravel all the assorted connections.
As the hustle and bustle of the holiday season winds down, it is time to reward ourselves with some much-need relaxation and recovery. Our frosty Canadian winters push us indoors, and there is no better place than the kitchen to start the relaxation process. Once you find a home for all the new gifts and put away the decorations for another year, it is time to dust off the classic, little kitchen appliance that was designed to prepare food with ease – the ol’ slow cooker.
Jan. 22, 2015 – Manufacturer PECO Inc. is offering a solution for firefighters looking to easily clear brush for firebreaks with its Brush Blazer product. Built as the ideal size between smaller-scale lawn units and large, commercial forestry attachments, the Brush Blazer is available with a 28- or 27-hp engine, and can tackle trees up to 10 centimetres (four inches) in diameter. The unit has easy-to-use controls with two levers for speed and steering, and is transportable on a standard trailer or pickup truck bed. Learn more at http://www.pecobrushcutters.com//?ref=brushblazer.com
Jan. 22, 2014 – Bullard has unveiled its latest series of thermal imagers called the X Factor series, equipped with state-of-the-art infrared engine technology and image-processing techniques. The series includes the Eclipse LDX, T3X, and X. The Eclipse LDX runs at 60 Hertz image update rate, and includes a new LCD display that increases brightness and improves contrast, which allows firefighter to see more clearly in thick smoke and direct sunlight. Learn more at http://www.bullard.com/
The Town of Petawawa Fire Department in Ontario, under Fire Chief Steve Knott, took delivery in December of a Carl Thibault Fire Trucks-built pumper. Built on a Spartan Metrostar chassis and powered by a 380-hp Cummins ISL9 engine and an Allison Gen IV-E model EVS 3000, the truck is equipped with a 1000-gallon Ultra Poly water tank, a 1,050-igpm HALE QMAX pump, LED scene and compartment lighting, Battalion 911 seats, a VMUX unit and backup camera.
A phrase I often used to hear, “You are too young to be a fire chief,” is vanishing from today’s fire service.
There are a lot of firefighter leaders, writers and administrators who talk about leadership versus management, the differences between them, and how each is applied to situations, problems, or issues. As a consultant who specifically assesses, creates programming and instructs on the tenants of these topics, I find it very amusing that the predominant term used by managers in the private industry in which I consult, is in fact, fire fighting or putting out fires. These terms are used to describe dealing with problems that pop up, or people or things that seem to become difficult. You’ve probably heard these terms in the context of business, as emergent issues that always put a wrench in your plans and seem to come out of nowhere and start fires. These fires, if left unattended, seem to grow in these organizations until they consume morale and organizational culture, much the same way a structure fire consumes oxygen. Managers tell me how they fight the fires with aggressive policies and manage the issue from a best-case scenario point of view, sometimes even taking a chance or having to move quickly on an issue to stop it from spreading. Just imagine an organization lacking in oxygen – a slow, dying, stale business with no fresh ideas goes under, and you can almost bet cash money that someone was trying to fight a fire. Fire fighting is extremely dangerous, has unforeseen risks and is an aggressive venture to undertake at the best of times. So why do we do it? Because there may be something to save. But when it comes to business and/or fire fighting, our strategies have evolved to the point at which even firefighters question why we would do something so aggressive.Fighting or putting out fires are horrible terms and mindsets for managers, leaders, and supervisors in any industry,– including the fire service – when it comes to dealing with people and managing resources. For goodness sake, the term fire fighting has the word fight in it. Why would you want to correlate any work activity to the term fight? The new fire officer, fire chief and firefighter all learn the same conceptual ideas now that we know that interpersonal skills and communication skills are paramount to the success of the department, in the halls and on the fire ground. In fact, unless something is happening that is of imminent danger to my life, there is really never a time to yell, ever. Every organizational behavior, conflict resolution, and leadership book or course confirms this.And while we can argue until our face pieces suck in and were out of air, I can tell you I will never be convinced that managing people is the best way to create a successful department. Leaders lead people, and manage policy, directives and process. Managers manage people through a lens of policy, directives and process. The difference is that the leader is out in front with fire-prevention strategies and the manager is chasing fire with a small five-pound extinguisher. There is a notable difference in the approach, wouldn’t you agree? When my lovely wife was promoted to a management position at the hospital and struggled with the new buddy-to-boss paradigm, I suggested she lead the team from a perspective of collaboration, taking in feedback and doing a lot of listening from all of her new stakeholders. Once a deep understanding of the issues was accomplished, she was able to use feedback and suggestions to help draft new policy, and she gave all the credit to her staff for coming up with the ideas. A manager might have first tried to assume what the problem was and direct the fix with no input for others. While in some cases this would be a normal strategy and a proper course of action, rarely does this approach work as well as leading your team to help draw the right conclusions on their own. One solution builds value in the team and eventually prevents similar issues from popping up as stakeholders learn the value of leading forward to find the solution, while the later may solve the problem, but offers no long- term strategy for stopping the issue from happening again; hence the comparison of fire fighting rather than fire prevention. This strategy has worked for me in the boardroom, and the fire officers I trust and respect who use this method seem to have crews and followers who would bust through brick walls for them as well. Funny how building value in people, showing them respect and guiding them to follow policies and procedures that are collaborative in nature gets better results.An ounce of prevention or a five-pound pound pressurized can of cure? You decide.Jay Shaw is a primary-care paramedic and firefighter with the City of Winnipeg. Contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and follow him on Twitter at @firecollege
Scottish rugby player Nelson Henderson said, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” This is what leaving a legacy is all about, and since our retirements from the fire-service, we truly understand the importance of leaving a leadership legacy upon which others can build.  For fire-service leaders, legacy is all about planting leadership seeds within departments so that after the leaders have moved on, the seeds continue to grow. Remember, a leader’s legacy is not just what he or she did while in the fire department; it’s also what is left behind for others to build upon. Leadership is all about growing other leaders.  Imagine how gratifying it is for leaders to look back five or 10 years after leaving a fire department to see how their leadership direction took the department to new levels of success. To us, this is the true legacy of a fire chief. One of the key challenges to leaving a solid foundation to build up is how to ensure that all staff members are not only trained and ready to do their jobs, but are also prepared for future leadership positions. How does a leader know who to help grow and prepare for the future? The simplest and probably the best answer is that leaders need to teach, mentor and prepare everyone to meet the future; by doing so, the best will rise to the top and demonstrate that they are able to meet future challenges.There are five steps that may help fire-service leaders prepare future leaders. Step 1: lay out the plan. No matter what the project is, there must be a plan in place for it to be successful; building leadership capacity is no different. We all know that leadership is more than time served. The leaders of tomorrow require education and qualifications that focus on people; soft skills such as building effective teams and mentoring and coaching sell the department’s vision and make firefighters feel as if they are a part of a team. So ask yourself: what is the plan? What do you want to accomplish and in what timespan? Step 2: identify the existing leadership capacity. Every department has leadership and every department has leadership gaps. Preparing for the future means the fire chief and firefighters must communicate openly about the leadership plans for the department. Working collaboratively, which includes open and timely communication, gives everyone a connection with the plan and will help to inspire members to see it to fruition. Remember, a leader’s legacy cannot continue if it completely depends on his or her presence. Guiding the team and allowing team members to take the reins is part of building the momentum. Step 3: be the team. During any phase of any plan, a leader must ensure all team members know and understand that they are important. It is critical to know the difference between being a part of a team and being the team. Success occurs only if firefighters feel they are part of the team that is building the future of the fire department. One person cannot do everything, but many hands lighten the load and more efficiently complete goals and objectives. Step 4: celebrate successes. Take the time to celebrate accomplishments. We all make an effort to acknowledge when our kids win a ribbon or get an A on a test, but leaders sometimes forget that their staff need to hear that the department has successfully met a goal or worked through a challenge. So take the time to celebrate successful course completions because without celebrating the successes, it’s too easy to feel part of cold-hearted organization. Step 5: empower others. When it comes to leadership, it is OK to empower others to grow and explore how they can fit into leadership roles. Leaders may be surprised what their staff can do if they know they are supported. Lee Iacocca said, “If you really believe in what you are doing, you’ve got to persevere even when you run into obstacles.” When you are building your team and looking to the future to predict what kind of legacy you will leave as a fire chief or chief officer, know that there will be many obstacles and many setbacks that will test you and frustrate you. Persevere and believe in yourself and your team.To us, leaving a legacy is one of the greatest things fire-service leaders can do. Leaving a legacy demonstrates to everyone that the leader was invested in the department. For leaders, a legacy is about what’s in it for the organization, the communities they service and, most importantly, their staff.Les Karpluk is the retired fire chief of the Prince Albert Fire Department in Saskatchewan. Lyle Quan is the retired fire chief of Waterloo Fire Rescue in Ontario. Contact Les at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and Lyle at
Fire-service leaders have many responsibilities; developing talent in the fire hall is a responsibility that chiefs should take seriously given that one day all chief officers will move on to retirement or other opportunities. Leaving a solid foundation of internal talent is paramount to the stability and growth of the organization. The level of talent demonstrated within the fire station is a good indication of the organization’s leadership. When firefighter talent appears absent or is lacking, it’s a strong indication that the leadership has either stalled out or, in some cases, is unable to keep up with the growth of the department. In cases such as these, the fire chief and senior officers need to regroup and change things.There are various views on the subject of talent development, but one thing is certain: every fire department has talent, and it must be developed, otherwise the future looks grim and the community loses respect for the department.Firefighter talent is a commodity that increases in value as it develops. This commodity improves the fire department, enhances public safety, increases firefighter professionalism and boosts morale, which is why talent development must be the focus of all fire-service leaders, regardless of the size of the department. Many readers might believe that, by default, it is the fire chief’s responsibility to build department talent; we agree to a point, but only to a point. Yes, it is the responsibility of the fire chief to acquire the resources to develop firefighter talent, and this is typically accomplished at budget time by presenting a carefully laid-out plan that identifies the short-, medium- and long-range goals for talent development. But, for the most part, this is where the chief’s job ends. Now it’s time for the real talent-builders to roll up their sleeves and do what is needed. In our opinion, the real talent-builders are the frontline officers. Let us explain.Who is in the best position to know the skills, competencies, personalities and experiences of firefighters? The frontline supervisors. And who is in the best position to lead by example and set the bar high for talent development? The frontline supervisors. Frontline officers have more face time with the firefighters and therefore they are in a better position to understand individual strengths and weaknesses. Frontline officers can determine ways to best use firefighters’ strengths and minimize their weaknesses, which is, ultimately, building talent. Frontline officers are also in the best position to mentor and coach firefighters and to encourage them when they get stuck in a rut. Building talent requires frontline supervisors to understand the importance of firefighter talent; they must lead by example and set the bar high for not only firefighters, but also for themselves. In other words, the frontline supervisors must continually take steps to better themselves. To lead by example, these officers must be the example; when it comes to training and education, frontline officers should be the first to sign up for the course. We cannot expect others to buy into talent development if the frontline supervisor doesn’t buy into it. Building talent rests on the shoulders of every firefighter in the department; it’s a team effort. Who determines firefighters’ attitude toward building their own talent? You guessed it: the firefighters. Firefighters must value talent development and be active supporters of meeting department and/or industry standards. Firefighters may need to juggle their vacation periods to accommodate training, attend seminars on a weekend, or spend time doing homework in order to build their own talent. They need to have some investment in the game.Building department talent can be a challenge as firefighters likely have their own opinions regarding talent-building priorities. Regardless of what comes first or what comes second, successful leaders realize it takes the combined effort of every person in the department to develop this precious commodity. Basketball star Michael Jordan summarized this team effort quite nicely: “There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren’t willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, in the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual goals more difficult to achieve. One thing I believe to the fullest is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”It isn’t a matter of wanting to build department talent; rather, it is a matter of making it happen. We recommend you take steps to make it happen sooner rather than later.Les Karpluk is the retired fire chief of the Prince Albert Fire Department in Saskatchewan. Lyle Quan is the retired fire chief of Waterloo Fire Rescue in Ontario. Contact Les at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and Lyle at
We can’t help but reflect on our careers, the adventures we have enjoyed and how we have been privileged to serve our communities.
Public safety is paramount in our business. Indeed, public safety is not just for the public, it also includes safety for those who provide emergency services to the public.
It is absolutely amazing that we are in our fourth year of writing these joint columns for Fire Fighting in Canada.
You lead as you are. I learned this adage from a dear friend and mentor of mine – retired Cambridge, Ont., fire chief Terry Allen.
Fire Fighting in Canada editor Laura King sat down with Volunteer Vision columnists Tom DeSorcy, the fire chief in Hope, B.C., and Vince MacKenzie, the chief in Grand Fall-Windsor, N.L., to get a coast-to-coast perspective on the Canadian fire service.
We have had the pleasure of writing leadership columns for Fire Fighting in Canada since 2010.
Welcome to the first edition of what we hope will be a long and prosperous partnership between the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) and Annex Business Media/Fire Fighting in Canada. 
Many chiefs feel caught between opposing forces: on one side are fiscal pressures, including the conflict of downward pressure on budgets versus increasing service delivery costs; on the other side is the demand for sustained or increased delivery of fire-protection services.
Leaders come in all shapes and sizes and exist at all levels within an organization. When I want to learn more about how to be a good leader, I look beyond the fire service.
Three Breast Friends put one foot in front of the other and set off on an adventure they never expected.
How do we help every member of the fire service educate the public about fire safety?
Earlier this year, the National Geographic channel aired a six-part documentary, titled Inside Combat Rescue.
Being in the fire service seems to imply to others that we are tough and armour plated.
Ontario Fire Marshal Ted Wieclawek outlined to fire chiefs on Tuesday the details of proposed changes to the Ontario Fire Code that focus on fire prevention in homes for seniors and some other vulnerable Ontarians. See story below. Photo by Laura King
It’s a little-known fact that on the same day as the Great Chicago Fire there was another huge fire the United States: a fire burned so out of control in Peshtigo, Wis., on Oct. 8, 1871, that 2,500 people died
A strategic partnership has emerged in British Columbia with the intent to reduce fire injuries and fatalities among at-risk populations.
As I wrote this in late November, all thoughts were on the approaching Christmas season and fire departments were focused on holiday safety.
This past summer I watched more of the Olympics than I ever have before.
The number of fires and break-ins in an at-risk neighbourhood in Surrey, B.C., dropped significantly after a one-day education and safety blitz conducted by firefighters and RCMP officers.
I’ve been intrigued by the story of Hélène Campbell, a double-lung transplant recipient. Campbell, suffering idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, made headlines after appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres show a few months ago.
I’ve been writing for this publication for more than a year now and my focus has been to get firefighters
With advancements in automobile-safety technology over the last 10 to 15 years, steady progress has been made in the development of techniques to safely remove passengers from motor-vehicle collisions. Today, most emergency response personnel use established methods of extrication, such as dash lifts, side-outs and roof removals.
What are you when you put your uniform on? Are you a fire officer, a firefighter or do you even contemplate how many different hats you wear in one shift? What if I told you that you are salesman, a communications officer, and a customer-service clerk all wrapped up in a fire helmet of whichever colour you just happen to wear? Several years ago I wrote a paper for a fire-prevention management course I was taking at the Justice Institute of BC; Rita Paine was my course instructor. I had an opportunity to use some customer-service skills the other day and it reminded me of the fictional paper on which I just happened to get an A. The purpose of the paper was to write about customer service in the fire service and describe what it meant to each of us.
I recently had the opportunity to teach a class on ventilation for a fire department that has a lot of large, low-rise apartment buildings in its district. Most of the buildings house low-income and/or elderly tenants, and the department frequently responds to smoke-removal calls from burned food. The fire chief wanted several young members in the department to hone their skills on positive-pressure ventilation (PPV) – a tactic they frequently use to remove smoke from these buildings.
We all know that the fire service is steeped in tradition. Many of these traditions are beneficial and provide us with culture and operational support and guidance. However, at other times, some of these traditions – if left unchallenged and without continued evaluation – put firefighters and the communities we protect at great risk. How we as a fire service manage doors and other access points during structure fires is one of those time-honoured traditions we must re-evaluate in order to operate safely and effectively in today’s fire environment. Door control is an incredibly important tactical capability for any progressive fire department.
We are continuing to look at sub-level rescues of a downed firefighter with a focus on rescue tactics. In October, we went over the use of rope to rescue a firefighter who is conscious and able to assist in the rescue process. Here, we are going to focus on tactics to rescue an unconscious downed firefighter, or a downed firefighter who is immobile due to an injury or an impedance of some sort.
"Attack 1 to command: this is a hoarder house.”
When I started working in the fire service in 1995, much of a new recruit’s training was based on knowledge passed down from senior members to rookies.
From the Vandalia Avenue fire in New York City in December 1998, in which three FDNY firefighters died, to the Forward Avenue fire in Ottawa in February 2007
As the new year approaches, training officers across our nation get out their calendars and begin their juggling act, known as planning out the year’s training schedule.  Realistically, a year boils down to 42 (on average) nights. And when you consider practice nights (volunteer departments) are usually between 1.5 and two hours, there really isn’t a lot of time (between 63 and 84 hours). Responding to MVIs (extrication), first-response medical calls and/or first response hazmat calls really impacts training requirements. Once each quarter, departments should schedule a live-fire exercise and a driver training drill.The following are some basic topics training officers should consider as part of their scheduling: cold-weather emergencies; ropes and knots; CPR and AED; forcible entry; chimney fires; apparatus and equipment; ventilation; SCBA; hose handling; preplans; area familiarization; fire suppression; fire extinguishers; advancing hoselines; cold- weather pumping; drafting; hose testing; hazmat operations; ground ladders; vehicle extrication; vehicle fires; below-grade fires; RIT; roof operations; hose streams; confined-space rescue; LPG emergencies; wildland fires; interface fires; structure fires; downed-firefighter rescue; arrival reports; size-up; ICS 100; PPE; firefighter safety; communication; alarms; water supply; nozzles and streams; building construction; fire suppression; BLEVE; salvage and overhaul; firefighter survival; mayday, disaster and large-incident response. Once you lay out the main topics you can add specific objectives under each. I have included 13 such topics as examples. Each member should be given the opportunity to demonstrate safe knowledge of and ability to perform safely.■ Rescue equipment The set-up of the hydraulic tools system The set-up of the lifting bags system The set-up of emergency lighting ■ Building entry The proper procedure for entering a fire building ■ Ladders Proper ladder handling techniques Ladder the side of a building and safely secure the lanyard Climb the ladder and demonstrate leg lock Demonstrate sounding the roof Lower and stow the ladder  ■ Small equipmentDemonstrate the starting and safety procedures for: Chain saw / Reciprocating saw PPV fan Heat detector Generators under load with all lights ■ RIT Demonstrate the steps for rescue of a downed firefighter with SCBA  ■ Pre-connect deployment and loading Demonstrate the deployment of a 1-1/2 pre-connect Participate in loading a pre-connect ■ Over the bank Perform at least three rescue knots Demonstrate proper life-line anchoring  ■ Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) Demonstrate knowledge of SCBA use Demonstrate the donning and doffing SCBA Demonstrate troubleshooting the SCBA ■ Foam induction Demonstrate knowledge of setting up the foam inductor (E52) Demonstrate the proper cleanup procedures Demonstrate the proper application methods of foam ■ Hose rollsDemonstrate the following hose rolls Straight roll Single donut roll Double donut roll Locking donut roll  ■ Hose appliances Demonstrate extending a hose line using a hose clamp Demonstrate replacing a broken hose section Describe and/or demonstrate the proper use of gated wye add hose clamps  ■ Hose lays Demonstrate knowledge of a forward lay Demonstrate knowledge of a reverse lay Demonstrate knowledge of a split lay Demonstrate knowledge of a hydrant lay  ■ First responder Perform at least two first-responder core skills Demonstrate these core skills in a complete scenario Set up the basket stretcher in preparation for an over-the-bank rescue Package a patient in preparation to be rescued   View the embedded image gallery online at: http://www.firefightingincanada.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=latest&layout=latest&Itemid=1#sigProGalleria61aebd29ac Further considerations: Think through each practice objective. Follow your department’s SOGs. Use the incident command system throughout your training, and it will become automatic in your response operations. Have a stop procedure (usually a blown whistle). There should be no tolerance for horseplay. Assign safety officers for any hands-on drills or evolutions. Instructors should, whenever possible, use the three Ds at their stations:Demonstrate: instructors demonstrate the proper steps to complete the tasks required.  Describe: instructors demonstrate the proper steps again, only this time they describe what is being done one step at a time. Do: instructors will ask each member to do the task in the proper manner.I hope this helps. The goal is to practise the basic skills until they become automatic.  Two last things: your best instructional tool is preparedness, and, when possible, mix in the fun of competition. Please continue to train as if lives depend on it.  Ed Brouwer is the chief instructor for Canwest Fire in Osoyoos, B.C., and Greenwood Fire and Rescue. The 25-year veteran of the fire service is also a fire warden with the B.C. Ministry of Forests, a wildland urban interface fire-suppression instructor/evaluator and an ordained disaster-response chaplain. Contact Ed at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
The position of apparatus driver is not a glorious one. As with a football team, on which the quarterback or wide receiver gets all the attention from scoring or passing touchdowns, suppression firefighters tend to be in the spotlight, with their pictures in the paper or on the TV news. In both cases, however, the stars are able to do what they can only by virtue of the others doing their jobs. What a truck driver does for the crew affects that crew’s performance. Success comes only from all of the team members working together. Driver duty is a fitting topic considering we are now in the winter season. The driver’s primary job is to drive safely and defensively. Fire trucks are heavy pieces of machinery that require special skills to operate. A general rule for braking distance is the heavier the vehicle, the greater the braking distance required. Normally a four- to seven-second gap between vehicles is required for a truck driver to brake effectively, depending upon how fast the apparatus is moving. Always remember to use defensive driving skills and scan the roadway ahead of you in order to anticipate problems that will require the use of brakes. Photo 1 Photo 1 Photo 2 Photo 2 Photo 3 Photo 3 Photo 4 Photo 4   View the embedded image gallery online at: http://www.firefightingincanada.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=latest&layout=latest&Itemid=1#sigProGalleria3e885d17e1 Besides driving and operating the pump, drivers can help the crew in several other ways. For starters, drivers can help to ladder the outside of the building as part of the proactive fire-ground activities. Once a pump is put into gear and water is delivered to the hoselines, the driver then monitors the pump. He or she is therefore free to place ground ladders at windows around the structure to provide a means of egress and access for the rest of the crews (see photo 1). It is possible for a single firefighter to ladder the second-storey or third-storey windows; it takes practice, but it can be done and with ease once a firefighter learns how. When there is limited manpower, the driver can help in this area. The driver can also help with hose advancement from off of the apparatus. Sometimes, the crew arriving on scene first is not dressed in appropriate PPE and SCBA for the situation. If this is the case, the driver can easily assist the team by pulling off the hand line from the hose bed and advancing it for the crew to the front door (see photo 2). Of course, the pump has already been engaged and is circulating water from the onboard water tank to the pump in the meantime. Good drivers are able to put their pumps into gear, have the pump circulating water, and pull off the line, all before the crew is fully dressed. Drivers can also help to advance the line into the structure from the outside (see photo 3). Standing just outside the entrance point, a driver can feed hose inside the building and stage outside hose closer to the entrance. Because the hoseline is stretched off of the apparatus, there is still a good length of hose outside; by looping the hose and bringing it to the front door or entrance of the building, the interior crews can access and easily advance more hose as needed. The driver can also listen attentively to the radio. If the driver hears that a team needs certain equipment, he or she is in the best position to retrieve it and bring it to the front door or thereabouts. In this case, the driver’s actions save valuable time that it would take for crew members to go outside to get the equipment. On the scene of a vehicle accident requiring extrication tactics, the driver is often instrumental to the overall operation. Certain tools will be grabbed and used right away by the extrication team members, but as the incident unfolds, other items may be needed. If a driver is close enough to hear the communication among members, he or she can predict what the team will do next. If the operation is not going well and a change in tactics requires different tools, the driver will ideally have already left to retrieve those tools (see photo 4.) The driver can also act as a substitute when a member becomes fatigued or exhausted.  If the apparatus used during an incident is an aerial device, then drivers are tasked to operate the aerial ladder for either water delivery or for access to an elevated area. Skill is required to operate an aerial device, including an awareness of the surroundings with respect to power lines. Depending on the number of firefighters responding to the incident and the order in which the fire trucks arrive, a driver may be a part of the crew handling interior or exterior operations, or can assist another driver with various duties. Drivers can also be used by command as accountability officers or as scribes.  Mark van der Feyst has been in the fire service since 1999 and is a full-time firefighter in Ontario. Mark teaches in Canada, the United States and India. He is a local-level suppression instructor for the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy and an instructor for the Justice Institute of BC. He is also the lead author of Pennwell’s Residential Fire Rescue book. Email Mark at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
If the effects of the approaching cooler weather stay true to our country’s history, there will soon be an increase in fire calls. Most residential fires in Canada occur during the winter. This is also true of fire fatalities. Sadly, more people are likely to perish due to an accidental home fire during the holiday season than any other time of the year.There are three major causes of residential fires during the winter. Two of the three will come as no surprise: chimneys and candles. The third cause is clogged dryer vents. In fact, according to the NFPA, the number of dryer-vent fires has exceeded chimney fires since 2005, and most dryer-vent fires occur in January. Some researchers list dryer-vent fires as the No. 1 cause of residential fires.As for candles, we all love the warmth and ambiance they provide, but it is easy to forget that a candle is an open flame that can reach 1400 C. Most candle-caused fires start in the bedroom, except during the holidays when decorative candles are involved.  The most common cause of chimney fires is the ignition of creosote in the flue. Creosote forms primarily due to the use of unseasoned or green wood in the fireplace. There are other factors that can lead to creosote buildup, such as failure to maintain a proper temperature inside the flue, burning wet wood, or failure to clean the chimney regularly.Fires in masonry chimneys can burn to a temperature of 1093 C. These fires can damage the masonry material, which can then provide an opening for fire to escape into voids of combustible components such as the inner walls or attic space. There are several indicators of a working chimney fire: Sparks or flames exiting the top of the chimney A whistling or buzzing sound in the chimney A back flow of smoke through the heating device into the structure Discoloration on the walls adjacent to the chimney Smoke emanating from the cracks in the wall or electrical outlets near the chimney The minimum response to a chimney fire should be one engine company, one ladder company and an EMS unit. The engine company is required for fire extinguishment and the ladder company is required to supply tarps, ventilation fans, overhaul tools and ladders. Smaller volunteer departments may have all of this equipment on the engine, however, they still need EMS on site due to the fact that firefighters are working on the roof, often in freezing or otherwise inclement weather. The potential for injuries at a chimney fire may be greater than previously thought. NFPA 1500 Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program requires an EMS unit on fire responses. The following tactics should be considered when establishing standard operating guidelines for chimney fires: Establish command upon arrival; safety officer and RIT should be assigned. Conduct an exterior size-up and look for signs of a chimney fire. Call for resources to ensure safe operations. Gain entry; search for and remove victims; wear full PPE and SCBA; monitor oxygen levels and ensure adequate ventilation. Consistently monitor oxygen levels for carbon monoxide (CO). Chimney fires can cause the flue to fail allowing CO to escape into the walls, ceilings, attics and other voids. Perform horizontal ventilation if needed. Positive-pressure ventilation is the method of choice in these situations. The ventilation exit point should be as close to the heating device as possible, thereby minimizing the spread of smoke within the structure. Advance a hoseline to the front door as a precaution. Spread a runner or salvage cover on route to the stove or fireplace. Not only does a salvage cover catch any ashes or embers that may fall, when and if the wood is removed from the firebox it also keeps bunker boots from tracking dirt onto the carpet. Plastic tarps fail quickly when they come in contact with fire embers, so consider fire-resistant cloth tarps. Stop the flow of oxygen to the flue. Reducing the oxygen flow to the flue decreases the intensity of the fire in the flue and in some cases will extinguish it completely. This step may not be possible on open fireplaces. Extinguish the fire in the firebox. Before you put the fire out, consider using the fire in the firebox to your advantage. Sometimes a mere cup of water applied onto the burning fuel will cause the resulting steam to travel up the chimney and extinguish the flue fire. Multipurpose dry-chemical agents will put out the fire in the firebox, but will not usually extinguish anything further up. Only remove fuel from the firebox if it has been extinguished and if absolutely necessary (there are very few good reasons to take this step). Ladder the roof. If an aerial device is used, it should be extended to the chimney opening. If ground ladders are used, a wall or extension ladder should be placed at a good roof entry point, and a roof ladder should be extended to the roofline adjacent to the chimney. If the roof is covered with combustible material, a charged hoseline should be advanced onto the roof as soon as the ladders are in place. Do not place the ladder or secure the ladder to the chimney. Cautiously remove the chimney cap, bird screens, or spark arrestors with a hand tool. All firefighters on the roof should be wearing full PPE, including SCBA. Each of our trucks has a chimney kit consisting of a mirror, a length of chain (4.5 metres), and a chimney bomb (zipper-seal bags containing dry-chemical powder), and a small fire-place shovel, all placed inside a metal bucket. Inspect the chimney using the mirror. If there is fire, drop the chimney bombs down. When the chimney bomb reaches the firebox, the bag will burst and the normal draft will carry the powder up to extinguish the creosote. (Be sure to communicate your actions to the interior team). Slowly lower the chimney chain from the top of the flue to the firebox. Spin the chain to knock the creosote from the walls onto the firebox where it can be extinguished with water or a dry-chemical extinguisher. There is some opposition to putting water down the chimney based on the fear that the water may rapidly cool the flue causing it to fracture. These fractures may then go undetected and future use of the chimney may result in products of combustion being released into the walls or attic. The key is in the amount of water used and how it is applied. There are special nozzles (six liters per minute) designed to apply water inside the chimney. Check the clean-out box. This is perhaps the most over-looked step. Clean-out boxes can be found both inside and outside the house. The boxes are usually covered by a 20-by-20-centimetre metal plate with two handle tabs on it, mounted on the wall in line with the chimney. There may be more than one – I once found three. After locating the box, use a small shovel and a metal pail to clean out the burning embers. Once this is done, you can place a small, handled mirror into the box to look up into the flue. You should be able to see if there is still a fire in the flue.   Check for fire extension. Look for obvious signs of fire extension beyond the chimney. All roof, attic and wall areas near the chimney and heating devices should be checked for the following signs of fire extension: discoloration or blistering of surface materials; hot-to-touch areas; smoke coming from cracks, electrical outlets, light fixtures, eaves or roof coverings; visible glowing embers. This is a great time to use a thermal imaging camera or heat sensors if your department has them. Be sure to check each floor. If the fire extends beyond the chimney, treat it as a structure fire. Before leaving the scene, inform the resident that the chimney must be inspected by a certified chimney inspector before it is used again. Our department has forms made up that clearly lay this out for the resident. We get them to sign and date it and leave them with a copy. We also inform our dispatch that the resident has been advised.   Check the CO levels one more time before terminating the incident. The previous tactics can be customized for use with a dryer-vent fire.Thank you for your continued efforts to make sure all our firefighters get home safely after each call. Please drop me a line if your department has any hints for dealing with dryer-vent fires. There is very little information available in print, so your input would be invaluable. Stay safe and remember to train as if their lives depend on it.Ed Brouwer is the chief instructor for Canwest Fire in Osoyoos, B.C., and Greenwood Fire and Rescue. The 25-year veteran of the fire service is also a fire warden with the B.C. Ministry of Forests, a wildland urban interface fire-suppression instructor/evaluator and an ordained disaster-response chaplain. Contact Ed at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
When you’re a broadcaster, whether on radio or television, you’re constantly reaching out to an audience that you presume is there. For the most part, you’re talking into a microphone or camera in a one-way conversation without any feedback from those to whom you’re speaking. How’s that for motivation? In broadcasting school we were taught to treat our audience as just one person, therefore giving listeners the impression that we were talking directly to them and them alone. This experience was enhanced when broadcasters opened the phones and took calls, thus allowing a direct connection with the audience.  Magazine columnists are in a similar situation: we know the readers are there and we get reaction to what we say via emails and personal contact, but the feedback comes only after the column is published – weeks (sometimes months) after it has been written. Which is why the summer of 2014 was special for me; along with my Volunteer Vision co-author and good friend Vince MacKenzie, we took our opinions and columns off the pages of this magazine and to the people.   Over the summer, we presented what we called Volunteer Vision LIVE – three sessions in two provinces at opposite ends of the country. Thanks to Fire Fighting in Canada editor Laura King, who moderated two of our sessions in British Columbia, and Tim Pley, president of the Fire Chiefs Association of BC, who moderated in Gander, N.L., we took readers deeper into our columns, explaining where the ideas came from, the inspiration behind our stories and expanding on the issues we had written about, The beauty of our column is that Vince and I seem to touch on the same themes – not necessarily on purpose. It’s just the way we connect with the issues that face the fire service from coast to coast to coast. During the presentations, we brought forward several columns from the past few years; what struck me was that while the issues weren’t new, they are still relevant today, albeit with some new ideas and opinions. To say we all learned something from this exercise would be an understatement. The questions and comments in the rooms as we explored issues from recruitment and retention to retirement opened my eyes to the number of people who read what we have to say; there was a lot of acknowledgment and there were lots of heads nodding in silent recognition – or agreement – in each session.   While we maintained the same format and storyline, each of the three sessions was completely different. We were unscripted and unplugged, so to speak, and if it wasn’t for the moderators, all of our sessions would have run way over. In fact, all of them spilled into the foyers during the subsequent networking sessions.What I took away from those sessions goes far beyond meeting the readers; the experience reinforced to me that what I have to say is relevant to my peers. The fact that I have a hard time recruiting new members and staying ahead of the calendar resonates in other departments. My concerns over the future of the fire service is shared by many more; in fact, I’ve come to realize that while we tend to focus on recruitment on the front lines, we aren’t doing enough to address the need for leaders in our volunteer world. Seriously, it’s one thing to encourage new members to take on the daunting task of becoming a well-trained firefighter, but the need to step up and take on a leadership role adds a whole new wrinkle. Succession planning is vital to the health of any organization, and coming from a world that always has one foot firmly planted in the past, we need to be aware of this. We’re all not getting any younger, which is one thing I see as our biggest challenge in the future. Touching on one of Vince’s topics – the millennials in our ranks – can you actually see some of these people carrying your torch (and yes, I did say “your”)? As we grow older it may seem harder to realize, but it will and it has to happen.  There are times when we exist within our own little worlds, our small departments, without realizing that what’s happening in the next town – or province for that matter – has an impact on what we are doing locally. I guess we just need to be reminded of this; and, hopefully, through a column written by a couple of small-town fire chiefs, those messages are realized. Train as if your life depends on it, because it does, and understand that you are part of a great big family. I’ve been to Newfoundland and Labrador on three occasions and when asked recently if I have family back there, my answer was yes, yes I do have family back there – a fire family that gets bigger all the time thanks in a large part to my written words and those who read them.Tom DeSorcy became the first paid firefighter in his hometown of Hope, B.C., when he became fire chief in 2000. Email Tom at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and follow him on Twitter at @HopeFireDept
It is common in smaller communities that the volunteer fire department is the only available emergency agency. Most of Canada’s smaller communities have fire stations, but they don’t always have police stations or medical centres. Therefore, when a major emergency incident or disaster strikes these communities, it is the volunteer fire departments that respond. Unlike in larger cities with emergency-management offices and full-time staff, rural, large-scale disasters are usually dealt with by the members of the volunteer department. The rural fire chief or senior fire officer is thrust into the role of disaster operations commander, or, in times of non-emergency, the role of emergency operations co-ordinators and planners. This can certainly be a challenging role to be thrust into without preparation.I would like to focus on one element of emergency planning: communication. When the emergency is over and evaluation and inquiry begins, communication is commonly identified as a key factor in the success or failure of disaster operations.  Emergency management communication includes directing emergency responders, sharing public information, and gathering data about the emergency. Therefore, the fire chief needs to know how to receive credible information and how to communicate to the public effectively. I think we can all agree that forms of communication have changed dramatically in the last five years with the growth of social media. In order to effectively communicate in today’s world, emergency planners now have to consider a social-media component to the emergency-operations plan.Credible information now comes in many forms from the public. It used to be that everyone phoned into the emergency services to report issues, but today, many people who witness the incidents use social media to inform everyone. While most social media information is credible, some is tainted with opinion and rumors that will quickly spread to the public. The deluge of tweets and posts lends itself to misinformation because the public can receive information as quickly as the officials handling the situation. Unfortunately, the constant monitoring of crucial information can rapidly overload a conventional public information officer or media centre. Reports from the public also generally come with photos that cannot be ignored by emergency operations centres. The challenge for local emergency managers is to capture that information to assist in a manner that is credible and timely. I learned a new term during a recent session on media training: the digital volunteer. It’s a relatively new concept as applied to emergency management, but I believe it will soon become a familiar term. The digital volunteer is a person who emergency managers identify to help monitor social media platforms for relevant information and data during emergencies. Digital volunteers are not actively engaged in the emergency operations centre, but are engaged with the public information officer to alert those in charge when significant messaging is trending. Digital volunteers are, in essence, social-media savvy spectators recruited to help filter the barrage of information. If you spend any time on social media, you can probably think of a few of those people now. During almost every emergency, people emerge online to provide information to the public through posts on social media, as though they were officials themselves.  We all know someone who is tuned into the event for whatever reason. Many times these people are actively engaged in the situation and can be a valuable resource to assist with analyzing the volume of information. Enlisting these digital volunteers to filter and inform the emergency operations centre of trending issues or damaging rumors will be very helpful to overall communication. We should not turn away from these opportunities that can help us navigate the changing world of emergency management. So why not write this concept into our emergency planning?This fall, I will participate in an exercise on the concept of the digital volunteer at an emergency management conference in Nova Scotia. I am excited to find out what the organizers have in store for us. While the concept of the digital volunteer is relatively new, I see great value in it as a tool to help fire departments keep on top of today’s busy communication world.Vince MacKenzie is the fire chief in Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L. He is the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Fire Service and an executive member of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs. Email him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and follow him on Twitter at @FirechiefVince
There are many tools synonymous with the professions they serve. Think of firefighters and we think of everything from helmets and trucks to ladders and hoses.
Fire departments all have jurisdictions – areas that we cover and in which we provide protective services.
Firefighters strive to provide good customer service: that means treating others the way we would like to be treated – going above and beyond whenever possible and surprising people who don’t expect our do-onto-others attitude.
Volunteer firefighters who last a long time in the fire service can certainly gain a vast perspective on many aspects of life.
Social media can be our best friend or our worst enemy. Say the wrong thing, post the wrong picture and you have more than egg on your face.
I have a couple of pet peeves when it comes to the designation of Canadian fire services as professional or volunteer.
As one generation gives way to the next, so does the makeup of our fire departments.
The past summer seems to have been rife with disaster and conflagrations. Newscasts and social media sites were filled with details of events and suffering, with floods in Alberta, forest fires in every province from British Columbia to Newfoundland, and the tragedy in Lac-Megantic, Que.
I have written before about the benefits of involvement in the fire service beyond our own departments. As I expand my affiliations, both provincially and nationally, I continue to be amazed at the dedication and passion that those in the fire service hold for what we do, and just how that passion and pride fuels my positive attitude toward life.
Canada’s fire service is a network of firefighters, officers and departments of all types. Training opportunities are growing.

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