Fire Fighting in Canada

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Comment: May 2009

This issue of Fire Fighting in Canada is the one we hand out to delegates to the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs annual conference and trade show and other trade shows/conferences across Canada.

April 21, 2009
By Laura King


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This issue of Fire Fighting in Canada is the one we hand out to delegates to the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs annual conference and trade show and other trade shows/conferences across Canada.

This spring/summer I’ll be at the OAFC conference in Toronto, the Fire Chiefs Association of British Columbia conference/trade show in lovely Nanaimo, and the Maritime Association of Fire Chiefs conference/ trade show back home in charming Pictou County, N.S.

Like you, we’ve cut back on travel. Still, As James Careless reports in our cover story on page 12, trade shows are vital to the fire service and the suppliers and manufacturers that support the industry. But trade show organizers and the vendors who count on departments to do their major purchasing on the arena or conference centre floors are worried about attendance and the impact that fewer delegates (and therefore fewer buyers of SCBA, bunker gear, apparatus and tools) will have on trade shows and conferences.

It’s a vicious circle, really. Chiefs worried about budget cuts send fewer (or no) officers to the show/conference; revenue from delegate fees drops so the provincial association ends up making less money; vendors sell fewer goods and leave the show unhappy with their sales then opt not to attend the show the following year, leaving delegates unhappy with the quality of the trade show.

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What’s more, sponsorship for trade shows, conferences and instructional weekends/courses is drying up as businesses struggle.

Many provincial chiefs’ associations have brainstormed about how to best stage these conference and trade shows. Most have modified the schedules to ensure that the trade show floor is never empty of delegates, moved trade shows to Saturdays and/or Sundays to make them more accessible to volunteer departments whose officers can’t leave their day jobs to attend on weekdays, and put a push on to get delegates onto the floor during the last few hours of the trade show to guarantee purchasing.

As Barry Malmsten, executive director of the OAFC and the guy who does most of the heavy lifting for the conference/trade show, notes, departments actually save money by attending trade shows because officers can see all the equipment in one place, test it, compare it with competitors’ products and purchase on the spot.

Not to mention the learning and networking that comes with the conference/trade show. Departments need to know what other departments are doing – how they’re saving money and how they’re managing in tough economic times with, perhaps, fewer resources.

So, dig deep and find a way for someone from your department to attend your provincial trade show and/or conference so your people can stay current with trends and have access to the newest technology and the best equipment, so that the association that supports your industry will continue to thrive, and so that your people will come back to the station motivated, invigorated and full of ideas for working through the recession rather than complaining about it.•

Apologies to Chad Sartison, chair and project co-ordinator for The Fire Within, whose surname was misspelled in the February issue.


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