By Laura King
Nov. 25, 2011 - It’s always invigorating to get out of the office and network with like-minded people. In my case, the takeaway from conferences and training sessions such as this week’s Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs midterm meeting in Kitchener is story ideas for the magazine and connections with people who can help us execute those stories.
Nov. 25, 2011 – It’s always invigorating to get out of the office and network with like-minded people. In my case, the takeaway from conferences and training sessions such as this week’s Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs midterm meeting in Kitchener is story ideas for the magazine and connections with people who can help us execute those stories.
If I hadn’t left my notebook on the table at the conference yesterday afternoon (it’s being couriered to me) I could tell you about some of the stories we’ll be featuring in the next few months . . . More on Monday!
While 161 Ontario chiefs and deputies were at the OAFC this week, municipal politicians in southwestern Ontario met to come up with a plan for dealing with growing pressure on volunteer firefighters and chiefs. The issue – with two LODDs in Listowel, a training death in Point Edward and firefighter injuries in Meaford – is liability.
A short story in today’s London Free Press says officials from 21 rural municipalities will take the issue to Queen’s Park, and will ask for meetings with the Ministry of Labour and the OFM.
The OAFC is also focusing on liability and is educating chiefs about legal processes. We’ll have a story on that in the new year.
On a lighter note, it was amusing to see how many OAFC delegates are participating in Movember. Good thing there’s only one week left . . .
Shifting gears for a minute, today is Bruce Mosher’s last day as chief of Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency Services . A search of the Fire Fighting in Canada website pulls up a 2006 interview with Mosher 10 years after the amalgamation of Halifax County in 1996.
He was deputy chief in Halifax when amalgamation came down, and he was appointed as a deputy director (support services) of the new department. He was later put in charge of rural operations. Mosher soon learned the rural volunteers were completely dedicated to their communities and has frequently said that many are some of finest people he has ever met.
But you need more than dedication and courage to fight a fire. You need the tools.
“We had to get them the equipment they needed to do the job so they can go home safely when the call is over. I remember our people going into one rural station and when they left there was only one coat and one helmet left on the hook. Everything else was condemned.”
While some rural departments were in good shape, at others it became clear that volunteers were placing themselves at grave risk every time they fought a fire. Some gear dated from the 1960s. Some trucks were unsafe. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, some surplus and some earmarked for city stations, was rushed to the worst off rural areas. Other rural departments that had larger communities and a healthy tax rate also contributed gear and equipment to other stations that had little or no budgets to work with.”
The story says amalgamation was one of the most daunting challenges any fire service has ever faced in Canada.
And at the time, it probably was. Halifax Regional has had new challenges in the last couple of years and is doing what employment experts advise and have hired Doug Trusler from North Vancouver as the new chief. He starts in January.
Lastly for a Friday, some random thoughts (as those kids and FFIC contributor/Winnipeg firefighter Jay Shaw say on Facebook):
• The first meeting of the Ontario First Nations Fire Chiefs earlier this month was a big step forward. Watch for a piece on this in our February issue.
• Great meeting in King City last week with three recruits for a story on R&R that we’ll be running in 2012 (the interview notes are in the missing notebook so really need it back . . . )
• Lemonade from lemons, silver linings, sow’s ear to a silk purse . . . whatever your preferred cliché might be for turning bad into good (fire people are really good at that – and clichés too), we’re going to bring you a story in the new year about fire-service cancer survivors and their quests for change.
• And if all goes according to plan, our cover story for January will be the 100 per cent volunteer response to the fire at the White Point Beach Resort in Nova Scotia on Nov. 12.
• Oh, and congrats to the North Sydney Fire Department which, thanks to prolonged persistence (ie; harassment of Facebook friends) by Chief Lloyd MacIntosh, won the AA Munro fire department photo contest and $5,000!