Fire Fighting in Canada

Headlines News
Blogging from Parliament Hill

robEditor's note: The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs is in Ottawa this week for government-relations week. Rob Evans, deputy chief of Redwood Meadows Fire Department in Alberta and the CAFC photographer, is blogging from Parliament Hill.

March 14, 2012, Ottawa - Strategy and tactics on the fire ground is not a new concept to the fire chiefs gathered in Ottawa this week for government relations week. But who would have thought that lessons learned over the years fighting fires could translate into the meeting rooms and offices on Parliament Hill?

March 14, 2012
By Rob Evans

Editor's note: The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs is in Ottawa
this week for government-relations week. Rob Evans, deputy chief of
Redwood Meadows Fire Department in Alberta and the CAFC photographer, is
blogging from Parliament Hill.

March 14, 2012, Ottawa – Strategy and tactics on the fire ground is
not a new concept to the fire chiefs gathered in Ottawa this week for
government relations week. But who would have thought that lessons
learned over the years fighting fires could translate into the meeting
rooms and offices on Parliament Hill?

When you think about it, Summa Strategies Canada spent time Monday afternoon talking to the fire chiefs about the strategy and tactics of dealing with government.

The strategy of keeping government on side with the CAFC hasn’t changed, but how the group deals with the Hill is going down a different path tactically. Canadian fire chiefs want to make sure that the government is aware of the fact that we want to know what “we” can do for “them”. After last year’s successes with the volunteer firefighter tax credit, focus this year is placed squarely on two key issues with which the CAFC feels it can help government: spectrum (700MHz); and First Nations fire protection.

Advertisment

Police, fire, medical and other emergency professionals are requesting an allotment of 20MHz in the spectrum, so that responders have access to modern and reliable communication capabilities, including high-speed data and video.  Accessing such frequencies on the spectrum will help each other communicate with partner agencies and jurisdictions during emergencies and day-to-day operations. The movement of analogue TV to digital opened up the area of the spectrum that now allows an historical opportunity for all public safety agencies across Canada, North America and beyond to communicate with each other.

Canada took a step closer in August when Prime Minister Harper stated that the government was committed to setting aside spectrum for emergency responders in the next allocation. This week, the CAFC has been reminding MPs of this fact, and the need to keep up with advances in the U.S. On Feb. 17, the U.S. congress agreed to allocate the “D Block” to public safety and support the development of a mission-critical, nationwide public safety network that included 20MHz of broadband.  As I was writing this Wednesday afternoon, the industry minister was scheduled to make a 4 p.m. announcement relating to the spectrum issues and the CAFC was eagerly awaiting the news.

Communication with the MPs hasn’t been just about communications. First Nations fire protection is a big part of discussions this week. As in all parts of Canada, the CAFC supports the use of residential sprinklers and it is a top priority for sufficient fire protection and prevention. Educating stakeholders on the misconceptions of sprinklers in homes has always been a big part of promoting sprinkler use.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development has recently been tasked with reviewing current legislation surrounding fire protection and prevention for First Nations. The CAFC, along with the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada, supports the implementation of new legislation. Support does not just take the form of vocal backing though. Recommendations that the CAFC is putting forward regarding First Nations fire protection include requiring the use of national fire, building and plumbing codes on First Nations and federal lands not governed by provincial fire statues; the implementation of federal fire marshal and regional fire marshal offices on federal land; and that HRSDC fire inspections, currently performed every three years on federal lands, be required annually as per industry standards, including the provision of proper enforcement and follow up mechanisms with deficiencies reported to HRSDC. These inspections would be the responsibility of newly formed regions and federal fire marshals.

There is a lot of work ahead for the CAFC and fire chiefs across the country to move these issues forward. Just like a big mutual-aid response, the members of the CAFC in Ottawa this week have been working with the strategies and tactics outlined to us at the beginning of the week, and continue to attack the issues. This is an offensive operation and there’s no plan to change to defensive in the future. The CAFC is making strides as the trusted advisor to the prime minister and successes will continue with ongoing communication with our elected officials, bureaucrats and stakeholders in Ottawa and across the country.

– – – 
Comment | View comments | Archive


Print this page

Related



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*