Prevention through pictographs

Prevention through pictographs

The provinces of Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia have adopted legislation mandating that organizations deliver services in a manner that are accessible to all, regardless of disability. The federal government and many other provinces have signalled their intentions to follow suit. By Sean Cairns.

Back to Basics: May 2019

Back to Basics: May 2019

Firefighter and trainer Mark van der Feyst says the SCBA is the most important piece of PPE that any firefighter can use. The level of protection that it provides is unparalleled compared to the rest of our PPE. By Mark van der Feyst.

Volunteer Vision: May 2019

Volunteer Vision: May 2019

Fire Chief Vince MacKenzie says the the first and foremost duty is education of the public in the latest Volunteer Vision column. By Vince MacKenzie.

Career Kick Start

Career Kick Start

Fire Fighting in Canada, along with Blue Line and Canadian Security magazines partnered to present the first combined Security, Police, Fire Career Expo to help potential security professionals, law enforcement officers and firefighters get their foot in the door. By Jayson Koblun.

Feature: At the Helm

Feature: At the Helm

After one year being in their new positions Deryn Rizzi, Lori Hamer, Cynthia Hammond, and Keri Martens all agree on one thing — that trust is vital to any department’s success. By Jayson Koblun

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Those who serve in the fire, police and other emergency services are always first to step up and lend a helping hand to youth.
Everybody, it seems, has an opinion on how to stop wildfires.
Finally, it seems, the push to get a national Indigenous Fire Marshal’s Office (IFMO) up and running in Canada appears to be in the home stretch.
The Oak Bay Fire Department is sharing this article written by the late Ken Gill, who was a retired firefighter and served as volunteer chaplain with Oak Bay and Esquimalt Fire Departments on Vancouver Island.
The #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault is gaining traction around the world – and rightfully so.
Smoke had filled the building. Inside, it was dark, I recall, and oppressively hot. The bulky firefighting equipment I wore was heavy, very heavy, especially the helmet.
Time passes, but where does it go? This element is a much pondered but muddily understood concept. And yet, everything is about time; the time it takes to arrive on scene, to suppress the fire, to save a life. The time you work, the time you play.
Finding candidates that are a good fit for the department is a universal challenge. As psychologist Dr. Lori Gray, said during her seminar at May’s OAFC 2018 show: “The wrong hire can have profound implications for you as a service.” Personal experience is probably bringing a few of these implications to mind now. In addition, she continued, you are not doing justice to candidates by hiring them for a job they are not suited for.
As first responders, the fire service has its lion’s share of stories. Emergencies are unique life events, and some of the stories I’ve heard thus far are quite humourous post-fact and in absence of significant injury — such as ones involving people found in compromising positions after a car crash.
May 23, 2017, Oakville, Ont. - My average day involves sitting in front of a computer, editing stories, and lots of coffee. What it doesn't involve is crawling through smoke, cutting up cars or running hoses. But the day I spent at the Oakville Fire Department was not an average day.Before I suited up in editor Laura King's gear, I was given a truck tour and shown around the training facility. The alarm went off and the firefighters had to race off to a nearby school. It seemed as if it took no more than 30 seconds for the guys to suit up and drive off.It probably took me 15 minutes to put on my turnout gear. Just as I was feeling comfortable in the gear, and feeling the weight of the SCBA on my back, Training Officer Darren Van Zandbergen slipped a smoke-simulation screen into my helmet and I was once again uncomfortable . . . and essentially blind.I never realized how little is visible through smoke. I assumed some light would peek through; crawling on the floor feeling my way around walls and fallen beams I realized how wrong I was. It was nerve-wracking to blindly feel my way through the training building, but ironically it was an eye-opening experience.I have edited Extrication Tips columns for Canadian Firefighter, but I finally got to experience what it's all about. The tools were much heavier than I expected, my previous extrication experience having been limited to on paper. It was tough, but I managed cut through the windshield and the sedan door.By the time I attended the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs conference that weekend, I felt I had a better understanding of the job. I was enrolled in the municipal officials seminar and attended a training day at the Fire & Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) in Mississauga.That day I spent in Oakville made me seem like a total pro at FESTI, so many thanks to everyone in Oakville!With "KING" on my back and looking like a pro, a few people at FESTI asked if I was from the King City Fire Department. Funnily enough, I was born, raised and still live in King City. What a way to represent my hometown!There's only so much you can learn in front of a computer. Getting out from behind my desk was one of the most valuable experiences to help me edit the work of fire chiefs and firefighters to the best of my abilities. I have so much more to learn about fire, but hopefully with your help, Fire Fighting in Canada and Canadian Firefighter readers, I will get there. I'll never be able to understand the ins and outs like you do, but it's worth trying.I feel really lucky to be able to report on the fire industry. Even more so, I feel lucky that I can edit knowing that I am safe because my local fire department has that under control. After each training session, I was reminded not to take emergency services for granted.So, the least I can do is bring relevant and informative stories to the fire service industry! Let me know what matters to you as a fire service professional? What do you want to read about? I am looking forward to learning more about the industry as an assistant editor, and maybe I will get to attend a few more training sessions in the process.Lauren Scott is the assistant editor of Fire Fighting in Canada and Canadian Firefighter magazines. Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
May 18, 2017, Toronto - A firefighter with experience in water-ice rescue testified Wednesday at an inquest examining training deaths that he avoids exercises in icy, swift water because it is too dangerous.
Jan. 19, 2017, Toronto -  It’s complicated, this two-hatter issue. But the gist of it is this: an American-based trade union is denying its members the freedom that other Canadians have to work and do what they want in their spare time – build decks, plow snow, fix plumbing, be volunteer/part-time firefighters in their home communities.
I heard about the NFPA ecosystem during a meeting in Quincy, Mass., more than a year ago. I was baffled. I was sure an ecosystem was something I learned about in the rainforest segment of Grade 5 science class. What the heck did an ecosystem have to do with NFPA and, in particular, fire prevention and public education?
April 10, 2019, B.C. - For decades, scientists have predicted that B.C. would experience longer, more intense wildfire seasons as the climate warms. But the destruction of the last two years is still a bit surprising. | READ MORE
April 10, 2019, British Columbia - Wildfires that scorched vast tracts of British Columbia and led to forced evacuations in 2017 were stoked by climate change and are likely to become more common as global temperatures edge up. | READ MORE
Fire Fighting in Canada is bringing the national wildfire conversation to the fore. From April 8-12, 2019, Fire Fighting in Canada will publish specialized wildfire content to address innovative suppression strategies, training, and more. We will publish brand new stories plus bring renewed attention to articles that have stood the test of time in our archives. We will be highlighting:New demands faced by firefightersDepartment deployment challengesSuppressionSafetyStatisticsAnd more!Stay tuned to this page of Fire Fighting in Canada and social media — #WildfireWeek2019 — for the latest stories and videos during Wildfire Week 2019! Click HERE for our curated content. *Social*Twitter: @FireinCanadaFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/firefightingincanada/
April 9, 2019, Calgary, Alta. – A University of Calgary study says there need to be more wide, open spaces to prevent catastrophic wildfires like the one that devastated the city of Fort McMurray in northeastern Alberta. | READ MORE
The 2019 Security, Police, Fire Career Expo held March 7 at the International Centre in Mississauga on March 7 was a success. Those seeking a career in the fire service were able to meet and have one-on-one discussions with a number of fire chiefs and firefighters. The event was presented by Fire Fighting in Canada, Firehall Bookstore, Canadian Security, Blue Line and SP & T News. Fire mentors included: ·      Richard Boyes, executive director of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs and Helaina Mulville, administrative support coordinator at Ontario Fire Administration Inc. ·      David Cunliffe, fire chief of the Hamilton Fire Department. ·      Dave Pratt, fire chief of the Milton Fire Department. ·      Damond Jamieson, deputy fire chief of the Cambridge Fire Department. ·      Vannetta Tustian, a Toronto firefighter who is director of professional development – student recruitment for Fire Service Women of Ontario, and volunteer firefighter Taylor Wardaugh. ·      Chad Roberts, acting captain at the Oakville Fire Department and member of the extrication team. ·      Kory Pearn, firefighter with the City of St. Thomas and author of The Complete Guide to Becoming a Firefighter.   View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.firefightingincanada.com/index.php?option=com_k2&Itemid=1&lang=en&layout=latest&view=latest#sigProGalleriace99b72ab0
Back in mid-2017, when I was editor of this magazine, NFPA regional director Shayne Mintz sent me an email asking if I could put word out to my contacts about a new pub-ed position for Canada.
Finding a career that pays the bills and fulfills your passion at the same time can prove difficult. Mykhail Baehr has managed to combine two; fire fighting and photography.
Discussing mental health in the fire service is not easy, but it is vital. Firefighters have a higher incidence rate of mental illness and suicide than the general population.
In Google’s 2018 year in review, the company declared the ketogenic diet, or keto diet, was the most popular diet search on the Internet. In 2019, I am sure the ketogenic diet will continue to remain on top of many diet searches.
With new legislation that came into force Oct. 17, 2018, legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, it appears evident a whole new world is being unveiled to the fire service.
Anti-idling technology and policies could save Canadian fire departments thousands of dollars per year, according to a recent study.
In 2018, the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service launched an innovative Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) program. To our knowledge, this is the first full-time, in-service UAV program in the Canadian fire service available to respond immediately 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 
It never ceases to amaze me when and where leadership lessons present themselves.
Fire Chief Cynthia Hammond didn’t have to take her focus off the firefighters making entry during her first significant structural fire as the chief of Inuvik, N.W.T.’s fire department for one second. She trusted that her pump operator knew what he was doing. She knew the water was coming.
What best describes the daily practices of your firefighters?
Are you a t-shirt firefighter or a real firefighter (this includes officers and chiefs)?
When I was CEO of the country’s two largest homebuilding industry associations – first in Toronto, then Vancouver – part of my job was to meet regularly with mayors, councillors and senior building officials.
Every day we see people walking around with a device in their hands. Whether it is a phone or tablet, people are more connected than ever.
I am very privileged to have had the opportunity to fly as a commercial pilot for a number of years. As I began my flight training, and later flew corporate aircraft across North America, I was always amazed at the synergies between professional aviation, incident command and leadership.
It was a Friday afternoon in September – the 21st to be exact. Kim Ayotte, fire chief of Ottawa Fire Services, was relaxing at his cottage in the Otter Lake area, just over an hour’s drive from the capital.
There is the famous phrase every firefighter in the world has heard or used, “But we have always done it that way.”
What does it take to be an exceptional leader, or even simply a good one? Fire chiefs and other government leaders are missing out on a crucial ingredient if they only look to the private sector for the answer.
What makes us firefighters? Well, it is not our cool hats and t-shirts. Nor is it our uniforms, personal protective clothing, fancy rigs or bumper stickers, expensive equipment, or our fire stations and badges. It’s our training.
Diversity and inclusion have become a hallmark of the modern fire service. We aim for diversity in our recruiting, we continuously consult with a broad range of community groups, and every single day we interact with people from all walks of life.  
New research has reinforced what the Canadian fire service already knows from experience – working smoke alarms provide a crucial early warning that helps to reduce the spread of fires.  
Having a sprinkler system in your home can reduce your chance of dying in a fire by 79 per cent, according to a new study based on 10 years of Canadian fire data.Released in April by the University of the Fraser Valley in B.C., the study appears to bolster the call for mandatory sprinklers in all new homes in the leadup to the 2020 version of the National Building Code.Sprinkler Systems and Residential Structure Fires – Revisited: Exploring the Impact of Sprinklers for Life Safety and Fire Spread was written by Len Garis, Arpreet Singh, Joseph Clare, Sarah Hughan and Alex Tyakoff, who analyzed more than 439,000 fire incidents reported in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick between 2005 and 2015.“We wanted to take a fresh look at the data in light of modern-day fire response, demographics and building fire risk,” said co-author Clare, a senior criminology lecturer at the University of Western Australia and an international member of the Institute of Canadian Urban Research Studies at Simon Fraser University. “The results underscore the life-saving potential of automated sprinklers in all residential settings, particularly when paired with working smoke alarms.”The study focused on casualty behaviour, fire spread and fire department resources in residential fires, which numbered 140,162 in the 10-year timeframe. Based on the findings, the death rate per 1,000 in non-sprinklered homes is more than triple that of sprinklered homes, and people are more than twice as likely to be seriously injured in a fire in a non-sprinklered home as in a sprinklered one.The data also revealed that fires in single-family homes caused more deaths than those in apartments, that senior citizens were more likely to die in a residential fire than younger people, and that fires in sprinklered homes required significantly less fire department intervention.The findings support the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs’ (CAFC) multi-year campaign pushing for mandatory sprinkler systems in all new homes – including single-family dwellings – in the National Building Code.“We can conclude that increasing the use of residential sprinkler systems would have a rising impact in the years to come, both because Canada’s population is aging and because modern-day furnishings, building materials and open-plan designs carry a higher fire load, as research has shown,” Clare noted.The study builds on an extensive body of existing research on residential sprinkler systems, including a 2013 study by Garis and Clare and a pivotal 1984 study A Benefit-Cost Model of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems by S. Ruegg and S. Fuller that demonstrated a 63-to-69-per-cent reduction in the death rate per 1,000 fires, and prompted the U.S. Fire Administration official position that all homes should be equipped with both smoke alarms and automatic fire sprinklers, and all families should have and practice an emergency escape plan.Data for the new study was provided by the CAFC and the Council of Canadian Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners through Statistics Canada. Fire incident information available in the National Fire Information Database was also used to examine casualty behaviour, fire spread and fire department response.Overall, 97 per cent of the fires studied occurred in residential buildings without sprinklers. These fires resulted in 97 per cent of the injuries and 99.2 per cent of the deaths. Less than one per cent (0.6 per cent) of fires in single-family homes occurred in the presence of sprinkler protection. Of note: The death rate per 1,000 for fires in sprinklered homes was 0.9, compared to 3.3 in non-sprinklered ones. Only 10 per cent of injuries in fires in sprinklered homes were serious, compared to 23 per cent in non-sprinklered ones. Risk of death was not equal among ages and genders. People age 65 and up made up 30 per cent of the fire deaths in single-family dwellings and more than 33 per cent in apartment buildings. Males represented about two-thirds of all those injured or killed in a residential fire. Sprinklers were also shown to be successful in controlling fire spread. When sprinklers activated, fires were confined to the room of origin 88.4 per cent of the time, which was 1.35 times more frequently than for non-sprinklered buildings. When the type of housing was considered, the disparity was greatest for single-family homes, where fires with sprinkler activations were confined to the room of origin 1.5 times more frequently. In apartments, fires with sprinkler activations were confined to the room of origin 1.1 times more frequently.In total, only 1.6 per cent of fires in sprinklered properties spread beyond the building, compared to 5.7 per cent in non-sprinklered properties.Firefighters were also safer when working in sprinklered buildings. They were injured 1.6 times more frequently in non-sprinklered buildings. No serious firefighter injuries were reported in sprinklered building fires, as opposed to 15 per cent for non-sprinklered building fires.It should be noted that due to variations of fire spread and size or other fire-control mechanisms, sprinkler systems did not always activate when fires occurred. Sprinklers were only required to control 18 per cent of the fires in apartments or 28 per cent of the fires in houses.Overall, the study makes a strong case for the increased use of sprinkler systems in all types of residential buildings to reduce fire-related injuries, deaths and resource use.The protection is even greater when combined with early detection. Based on the new findings in combination with earlier research, it can be concluded that fire-related death rates per 1,000 fires are reduced by 43.7 per cent with working smoke alarms and 79 per cent with sprinkler systems.What can Canada’s fire community take away from this?“This is further evidence that mandatory sprinkler systems in all new homes would be a large, positive step towards furthering residential fire safety in Canada,” Clare said. “At the same time, we need to acknowledge that most of the population will continue to live in existing non-sprinklered homes. The approach going forward must include working smoke alarms, along with targeted strategies to protect older Canadians and others at higher risk.”The study can be downloaded for free from the University of the Fraser Valley’s public safety and criminal justice research database at cjr.ufv.ca/sprinkler-systems-and-residential-structure-fires-revisited-exploring-the-impact-of-sprinklers-for-life-safety-and-fire-spread/.Len Garis is the fire chief for the City of Surrey, B.C. He is also an adjunct professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and associate to the Centre for Social Research at the University of the Fraser Valley in B.C. Contact Len at
Social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube have been lovingly embraced by a large number of Canadians, nearly 23 million to be exact, young, old and every age in-between.
When I was CEO of the country's two largest homebuilding industry associations — first in Toronto, then Vancouver — part of my job was to meet regularly with mayors, councillors and senior building officials. | READ MORE
Everyone in the fire service is well acquainted with the ever-present argument around response times.  The overwhelming opinion for decades has been that rapid response is best. We have ingrained it in our firefighters, demanded it of our politicians and assimilated the public to a large extent.
The ever-emerging trend for municipalities across the country is to establish or expand corporate communications, a.k.a. “Corp Com.” For larger municipalities, it may be an entire department led by a director and consisting of several communications staff. For medium and small municipalities, it’s more likely one or two people dedicated to internal and external messaging, social media and other communications tasks.
Editor’s Note: In 2014, the city of Regina encountered alarming incidences of arson involving children. The December 2017 edition of Fire Fighting in Canada explored part 1 of the story, where fire investigators working with the schools began to determine who might be responsible for the escalating fires. Part 2 examines how the various players worked together to put a stop to it, eventually laying more than 20 charges of arson.
In September 2014, children in a Regina neighbourhood started hearing stories about kids setting garbage containers and garages on fire and that some of these fires were set using gasoline. While kids setting garbage fires is common in the neighbourhood – an average of 100 garbage fires are set by kids every year – this was different. Kids using gasoline was different and indicated fire setting behaviour was at a new, dangerous level.
Previous columns have discussed why all firefighters are responsible for public education, and the use of storytelling as a tool to get our messages across. It is time to add another layer: how to best teach and reach adults.
Unless your fire department still houses teams of horses, chances are, your suppression equipment and training have advanced over the years. Can you say the same about your public education? I have an easy three-question test, which, with a great degree of accuracy, can determine whether your public education is outdated.
Smoke alarms. CO alarms. Attended cooking. Clear dryer vents. How many of these topics has your fire department covered the past few years? The answer is likely all of them, yet there goes your crew again – another fire, started in the kitchen, unattended cooking, no smoke alarm.
As I sit in front on my computer to write this month’s article, I hesitate because, as a public educator, this past week has been particularly difficult for me.  
I scheduled our department’s rookie training to take place through the first three months of the year (January-March). All of our members attend these training sessions, veterans and officers alike.  
We have looked at the last few months the issues with our personal protective equipment (PPE) in respect to not wearing it properly, not inspecting it properly and not having it ready to go when needed. We are going to move on to the next piece of our PPE and that is with the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
Becoming a career firefighter can seem like a daunting task for some when you consider the schooling, training, volunteer hours, reference checks and more that many chiefs take into consideration during the hiring process.
Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) has evolved. CISM is a multi-faceted system designed to reduce the impact of operational stress, arguably the industry standard for first responders.
Last month, we looked at the factor of not inspecting our PPE and the consequences that results from the absence of it. This absence leads into the complacency factor that prevails in the fire station and on the fire ground.
As the years have slipped by, and Fire Fighting in Canada has gone through a half dozen editors, I wonder if readers still know the reason behind Trainer’s Corner. This column was birthed in 2001 after a conversation with Jim Haley, the magazine’s editor at that time, with the intent to help other volunteer training officers.  
At 9 p.m. on Nov. 20, the tones went off for a tank truck fire in our district. In Slave Lake District, 50 super B oil tankers haul oil products through the region daily.
This is article number four. In past articles, I looked at lessons learned from some tragic circumstances that resulted in an inquest, gave you food for thought on best practice documents and the professionalism of emergency communications, and in September the focus was on avoiding liability. So, where do you go now?
As we begin a new year in the Fire Fighting in Canada series, I want to examine a few key items or areas that are important for us to consider when it comes to firefighters becoming complacent.
As a brand new chief officer thrust into the role by, in my view, an outmoded right of passage that many of us know as annual elections, I was, to say the least, more than a little bewildered.
At our Dec. 5 practice, I referred to the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. fire in 1999 that claimed the lives of six career firefighters. After some background, we looked specifically at the first of the 13 recommendations laid out in the Firefighter Fatality Investigation Report F99-47 CDC/NIOSH. This Trainer’s Corner will follow that pattern.
I recently had the opportunity to return to an elementary school classroom to teach some fire safety and interact with the students. After years of being off the official public education school circuit, I realized very quickly how much I missed being in the classroom teaching public education.  
Following a presentation I did in Ottawa at Fire Rescue Canada last September, I learned a lot about the topic of “out-of-area response,” or the fact that an area without response at all, is something new to many.  
I’m not a big fan of the word “hero” for a couple of reasons. One is that I think it is used all too frequently, and the second is that I believe everyone is a hero to someone, most of the time.
Reading a piece from a recently retired colleague got me thinking. In particular, a comment about finding something to wear other than a uniform every day once you retire made me think of the power a garment has and the impact it can have on a volunteer fire department.
I want to write about “vision.” It’s a word that appears in the title of this column every edition. But do we really stop to think what vision means in our volunteer and composite firefighting world?
Every one of us knows the customer experience firsthand. We’re all consumers, and at some point each and every day we receive some form of service. Hopefully, we are treated properly as a customer.
It’s evening, that period just after supper and before you go to bed. The kids are asleep and, despite the television being on, you’re on your phone checking social media and looking at funny cat pictures.Then it happens. The tones drop. Dispatch comes on and gives you information about a possible structure fire just outside your community. Multiple calls have been received. You get up from the couch and hurry to your room to put on some more appropriate clothing before heading outside to start your vehicle. Getting to the firehall takes about six minutes and if you want to make a truck and get to the fire in time to have any impact you need to get moving.Sound familiar?Response time to any emergency is of critical importance to fire departments all across Canada.Preparation begins with the individual firefighter. The first step is to prep your individual kit. Having pants, socks, t-shirt (weather depending of course) and boots placed in a dedicated area negates time lost searching for clothing in the dark or in a panic. Ensuring the vehicle used to respond to the hall is clear of snow, full of gas and angled out and not blocked in is also a strategy, aiding in faster reaction times. Another trick is to put the keys to that vehicle in a place that is consistent. Looking for keys or eyeglasses is a time-killer.Responding from your house to the hall has to be done in a professional and safe manner. Planning ahead will ease that strain. Drive the route under normal conditions. Know the back streets and alleys that you could use in the event of obstruction. Identify hazards you want to avoid such as school zones, playgrounds and seniors’ complexes when travelling to the station. Understand road conditions, watch the weather forecast for precipitation and account for those factors when you respond.Another innovative way to reduce the timeframe from house to hall is to use a green light. This is unique in Canada and used by many rural departments in many provinces. Some, like Alberta and Ontario, have it written into their legislation. By mounting a green light inside a personal motor vehicle, a statement is being made that you are a firefighter, likely a volunteer, and, when activated, that there is an emergency that requires attending. This may seem like an easy venture to partake in, but it isn’t successful unless an educational component is attached to it.The first stage is ensuring firefighters using the lights understand their obligations and responsibilities under respective provincial traffic safety acts. Firefighters must know that the use of a green light provides no special privileges and all normal traffic control devices and regulations have to be followed.   View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.firefightingincanada.com/index.php?option=com_k2&Itemid=1&lang=en&layout=latest&view=latest#sigProGalleria4a3899ff4e Once firefighters understand those requirements, the second and more difficult phase begins – creating awareness amongst the public. Not every driver knows what a flashing green light signifies. Posting signs in your municipality that explain what a green light means is a great way to focus that message on anyone that enters your communities via a roadway. Social media posts, school talks and community events are also perfect ways to distribute the message. Green lights do not require another motorist to pull over, but it is a courtesy to yield the right-of-way to the responder, thus clearing the path to the hall.Once at the hall, there are still numerous little ways to speed things up. First, adequate parking is a must. In the Northwest Territories, this includes space for snow machines and snowmobiles. Safe parking spaces that are away from responding bay doors and exit routes is a consideration. Once parked, having the main door open for firefighters to enter through is a big help. Some departments open one of the bay doors, usually the door without the responding apparatus coming out of it, which allows firefighters moving from the parking lot to gain access to the hall without having to use keys to open locks or punch in access codes to pull the door open and gain entry. Arriving at the lockers, a firefighter should have stored his or her turnout gear in such a manner as to assist with rapid donning. Pre-rolled pants over the boots with gloves and balaclava attached to the coat save time.Technologically speaking, the use of firefighter responder apps on cellular devices are beneficial for telling departments who is on the way, sometimes how long it is expected to take them and provides the crucial data of how many firefighters are responding. Knowing who is coming and their specific skill sets and capabilities not only speeds up truck response, but it also arms an officer with advanced knowledge of the differing levels of experience available when a truck arrives on-scene.Responding to a call from the station often requires advanced training from the officer and driver. The officer must know where the call is, the quickest way to get there, and be aware of any barriers to the response. The driver must have knowledge of emergency vehicle operations, provincial traffic act rules regarding lights and siren usage, and be skilled enough to maneuver a vehicle under stressful conditions.Post-call review is also an important component to enhancing response times. Determining a department’s level of service is the first step. NFPA 1720 is the standard to strive for. Ignoring that standard is poor planning. Acknowledging the existence of that standard and working on complying accordingly is the right avenue to take. Gaining input from firefighters on how to further expedite responses is also worth a debrief after the call.Kirk Hughes is deputy fire chief of the M.D. of Taber Regional Fire Department in Alberta. A veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Kirk served with the Burlington, Ont., Portage la Prairie, Man., Deline, N.W.T., Fort Providence, N.W.T., and Behchoko, N.W.T., fire departments before taking a position with the Municipal District of Taber as the director of community safety.
Recruitment. It seems to be a topic of discussion a lot lately. Fire chiefs and officers are telling me that not only is it getting harder to recruit volunteer fire fighters these days, but when we do, some of the successful hires leave in a few short years for fulltime fire fighting jobs.
Many have heard me quote this saying about the fire service: it’s “150 years of tradition, unimpeded by change.” But that’s not entirely true. There really is change in the fire service – it just doesn’t happen overnight. Believe me, in the last 35 years I’ve seen my fair share of change; it has and does occur on a regular basis, not only in the way we conduct ourselves and the job we do, but the change in the people that do the work itself.  
You may be familiar with the phrase “sharing is caring”.  In this case, if you share this column in one way, shape or form, it may go a long way toward caring for those volunteers in your fire hall. This just may be the opportunity to tell the community their story.
Reflection. Wow, there is another one of those power words like Resilience, Change or Inspiration. Words that good leaders have emblazoned on their foreheads, or that we’d like to believe is the case.  
Feb. 1 marks a fire fighting milestone for me. It will be my 35th anniversary of the day I joined my hometown fire department and became a volunteer firefighter. I remember entering the fire hall that first training night, all excited and proud of the journey I was about to embark on. Now I look back and am even more proud of what the fire service means to me.

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