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October 23, 2014
By Jennifer Grigg

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Oct. 27, 2014, Gravenhurst, Ont. – It was Day 2 of a courtroom procedures course at the Ontario Fire College. I had a great sleep, was up early, had been down to the dining room and grabbed my morning cup of coffee. Back in my room, Breakfast Television was live streaming on my laptop; I had a coffee in hand, and was ready to blog.

Oct. 27, 2014, Gravenhurst, Ont. – It was Day 2 of a courtroom procedures course at the Ontario Fire College. I had a great sleep, was up early, had been down to the dining room and grabbed my morning cup of coffee. Back in my room, Breakfast Television was live streaming on my laptop; I had a coffee in hand, and was ready to blog.

Taking courses at the fire college is always a great experience: meeting new people, seeing familiar faces, networking, learning about how other fire departments handle day-to-day operations, and of course, the course content itself.

As valuable as all of the above are, it’s often what happens after class that makes my fire-college experiences even more memorable. Last night, for example, a couple of the women were walking by my room, noticed the open door, and stuck their heads in to ask how dinner was (my hubby took me out for dinner because it was my birthday . . . brownie points for him).

As the two stood in the hall, and I sat on my bed, chatting, another classmate joined the conversation, and then a fourth opened her door and joined in the chit chat. (I tend to be a bit of a book worm and had been working on another course for my full time job-but was happy to put the books aside and join the girls in the hall).

As much as I value my down time (which is why I decided to stay at the college instead of driving back and forth – what busy mom and wife wouldn’t?) I was happy to have the opportunity to engage in heartfelt discussions about life in the fire service with these women.

We chatted about everything from years in the fire service to experiences with co-workers, to hairdos and husbands and kids. It’s funny how you think you’re the only one who goes through certain things sometimes, only to find out that most women share the same life experiences you do. In a short time, we laughed, we poked fun and we bonded, which is easy to do with like-minded people.

Another pleasant surprise occurred that morning, when I returned to my room after having my shower. I’d pulled the door (almost) closed when I left my room, and when I returned to it and grabbed the door knob, I realized that the handle was in the locked position. I breathed a silent prayer of thanks for having not pulled the door shut and ending up stranded out in the hallway. That moment in my day had the potential of being a very embarrassing one!

Later, when I was getting my blessed morning coffee in the dining room, a classmate (a chief, I believe) asked me if I was the one who writes for Canadian Firefighter. I smirked and said “yep, that’s me.” It always catches me off guard when someone comments on my writing or blogging because in my mind, I’m still just writing for me and my editor and a few people in the hall).

He laughed and then said, “You must get that a lot, eh?” I laughed and said, “Not really.”

One of the most memorable moments of the week was when a classmate from Mississauga asked me why I hadn’t mentioned Mississauga in my introduction. (Read my last blog for more on that topic).

Most surprisingly, a classmate who rooms next to me is here for her first time, and she’s not the only one. This is a “grandfathering” class, offering me and my classmates the opportunity to obtain our NFPA 1031 Fire Inspector Level 1 upon successful completion of this course; now that Ontario is in the process of transitioning to NFPA standards, it’s a huge class.

We come from varying backgrounds – suppression, prevention, volunteer and full time – which is typical of most courses taken here at the fire college, but what stands out for me in this case is the faculty. Or three instructors – Jana, Nancy and Dave – have put together a comprehensive and informative class that encompasses both the major learning objectives and the background information to help us better understand the concepts, and recognizes the varying experience levels of class participants.

This program is an opportunity for those of us who may have started the fire prevention officer courses under the previous Ontario curriculum 12 to 15 years ago, to continue with our training and development, building upon the years of experience in the field.

You can’t help but appreciate the time and energy put forth in creating a program that ensures (consistent with the common fire service mantra) “no one left behind.”


Jennifer Grigg has been a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario since 1997. Email her at jhook0312@yahoo.ca and follow her on Twitter at @georgianbayjen


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