Fire Fighting in Canada

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CAFC wants action on AG’s report

Nov. 9, 2009, Ottawa– The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs wants Prime Minister Stephen Harper to create a panel of first responders to address emergency management shortcomings identified by Auditor General Sheila Fraser in her report last week, and to establish a Canadian fire advisor’s office to liaise with the fire service.

November 9, 2009
By Laura King

Public Safety Canada has not exercised the leadership necessary to co-ordinate
emergency management activities . . . ,” Fraser said in her report. In
addition, the report said that federal government department has spent less
than one-third of its $58.5 milion budget for 2008-09.

CAFC President Bruce Burrell
said the report highlights shortcomings that the fire services has recognized
for years. Burrell said several
issues identified in the
auditor general’s report that have been presented by the CAFC to the federal government
repeatedly since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The auditor general reported that the 2004 National
Security Policy called for equipment and communications to be interoperable or
compatible so that fire, police and ambulance services could work together more
effectively. 

“That was five years ago,” Burrell said. “We are
still waiting for the federal government to take meaningful action in line with
that policy.”

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In addition, the CAFC has been pressing since 2006
for the establishment of an office of the Canadian fire advisor within Public
Safety Canada. “That secretariat would provide the department with the type of
experience and knowledge the auditor general says it sorely needs,” Burrell
said.  

Burrell also there are other shortcomings, from a
faltering response to the perils of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear
and explosives (CBRNE) threats to inaction in protecting critical
infrastructure.