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May 10, 2012, Toronto – They got me! As editor of Canada’s premier fire magazines and a longtime news reporter, I pride myself on knowing what’s going on, particularly here in Ontario where the fire service faces some sticky issues.

May 10, 2012 
By Laura King

May 10, 2012, Toronto – They got me! As editor of Canada’s premier fire magazines and a longtime news reporter, I pride myself on knowing what’s going on, particularly here in Ontario where the fire service faces some sticky issues.

I have a close network of contacts who I rely on to help me dissect the rhetoric and translate the complexities of inquests and trials and arbitrations and guidance notes into stories and blogs that provide context and help readers understand how these events affect them and their departments.

In my five years as editor, I’ve built trust, credibility and respect with these contacts, which allows them to tell me things for background purposes that I don’t report, but that I absorb and process so that I better understand things and can write better stories, with broader context. This network of contacts will tell you that I don’t like not knowing what’s going on and prefer to be one step ahead of the grapevine.

Which meant that there were several smug, grinning faces in the crowd last night at the closing banquet for the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs 60th annual conference when outgoing president Tim Beckett announced the recipient of the OAFC president’s award.


I was at a table at the front of the room with Chief Jim Boswell from Georgian Township (Jen the Blogger’s chief), OAFC first veep Matt Pegg, and the executive of the Ontario Association of Fire Training Officers. We were two tables to the right of the head table (which was in front of the stage). When Tim stood up to go to the lectern, I hopped up from my seat, grabbed my camera and darted to Tim’s seat to get a better angle for photos while the awards were being announced.

Matt, who was part of the conspiracy, got a great charge out of this and informed my tablemates what was coming, so hilarity ensued when Tim called my name, the camera just about went flying, and I was rendered speechless (no, really, I was – for about 10 minutes, then dashed outside to write a quick thank-you speech on the BlackBerry, which I delivered after dinner).

I’m humbled and honoured and grateful for Tim’s longstanding support of what we do at Fire Fighting in Canada and his endless patience with me while learning about the fire service and, more importantly, fire-service politics.

Actually, before regaining my composure, the first thing I thought was how pleased the executive members must have been with themselves to have pulled this off without me finding out.

They should remember that I’m the one with the blog and the camera . . . !

FFIC editor Laura King was humbled and
honoured to receive the OAFC President's Award from Tim Beckett
Wednesday night at the closing banquet of the OAFC's 60th annual
conference. Photo by Alan Hooper.

On a more serious note, the 60th annual OAFC conference was a swirl of networking and education, starting with Friday’s FFIC golf tournament through last night’s banquet, with solid educational seminars in between and some entertaining politicking around the board elections.

While, in the end, the board was elected as expected – president Kevin Foster, first vp Matt Pegg, second vp Frank Lamie, third vp Ted Bryan and new treasurer Rick Arnel – there was a bit of a buzz around the director positions, with 16 nominations for 12 spots and two chiefs from composite departments (full-time chiefs, volunteer firefighters) winning spots.

There had been some sentiment that volunteer departments were under-represented on the board and a contingent of chiefs from volunteer departments sought support from colleagues to get elected to the board. Steve Hernen from Huntsville and Mike Molloy from Meaford – who have both experienced challenges in the last little while – were voted in.

It’ll be interesting to see what difference, if any, they make.

Lastly (because it’s the day after the OAFC conference and the creative juices are not flowing particularly well!), just a note that we’re looking forward to our sold-out career expo in Cambridge on Saturday. (There’s a waiting list for the next expo – sign up at

Chiefs Tim Beckett (Kitchener), Lyle Quan (Waterloo), Bill Chesney (Cambridge) and Brad Bigrigg (Caledon), deputy chiefs Andy Glynn (Oakville) and Steve Usher (Kitchener), former chief Richard Boyes (Oakville), and Cambridge HR co-ordinator Dave Bush, along with fitness experts, vendors and firefighter Kory Pearn, are, collectively, a gold mine of information for the 112 prospective firefighters who have registered. We’ll tell you all about it on Monday.

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