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July 29, 2013
By Laura King


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July 29, Toronto – Some catch-up items for a Monday morning . . .

I was treated to two amazing extras at the Maritime Fire Chiefs Association (MFCA) conference in beautiful Summerside, P.E.I., earlier this month: a visit to the Cavendish Beach Music Festival – the one with the Dixie Chicks! – to observe and learn more about the incident command system; and an afternoon at the P.E.I. Firefighters Association training facility to see how the island’s 1,000 (mostly volunteer) firefighters and a team of incredibly dedicated fire-service leaders have built, hands down, one of the best training centres in the country.

July 29, Toronto – Some catch-up items for a Monday morning . . .

I was treated to two amazing extras at the Maritime Fire Chiefs Association (MFCA) conference in beautiful Summerside, P.E.I., earlier this month: a visit to the Cavendish Beach Music Festival – the one with the Dixie Chicks! – to observe and learn more about the incident command system; and an afternoon at the P.E.I. Firefighters Association training facility to see how the island’s 1,000 (mostly volunteer) firefighters and a team of incredibly dedicated fire-service leaders have built, hands down, one of the best training centres in the country.

First, the festival. I was invited by P.E.I. Fire Marshal Dave Rossiter –who, I’m telling you, is the hardest-working fire marshal in Canada, attending every fire scene, doing inspections and investigations, handling fire-prevention and public-education (along with his able deputy Robert Arsenault – just the two of them) – to come and check out the massive, three-day music fest and to observe multi-agency co-operation and the use of the incident command system for a mass gathering.

The cool twist in all this, for me, was that one of the incident commanders (there were two, who rotated shifts), was RCMP Cpl. Scott Stevenson, with whom I grew up in Sydney, N.S. Our fathers worked together and our families camped together for years in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which meant a lot of card games around the table of our 19-foot travel trailer – talk about a confined space, although it was better than the original 14-foot! We hadn’t seen each other since Scott graduated from Sydney Academy two years ahead of me, in . . . let’s just say a long time ago. We both had an interest in photography: he wanted to be in the RCMP (he’s the forensics guy, so photography comes in handy); I wanted to be a reporter . . .

Fast forward to beautiful Cavendish, after a feed of deep-fried whole clams on the boardwalk – a must if you’re on the island! – and an RCMP ride through the emergency entrance/exit into the festival. I spent about four hours at the festival site, got a tutorial on ICS and the amazing set up and co-ordination of agencies and teams, and some VIP media treatment thanks to Rossiter and Stevenson – who work together almost daily and are good friends – and the security team.

While there were no major incidents that weekend, and most of the country-music fans were well behaved, there were many minor incidents – a lot involving young people and fake IDs – and one rather nasty episode involving a cranky festival-goer who found the traffic rules offensive and took matters into his own hands – my guess is that the work put into a meticulously run ICS and the well-trained personnel on hand prevented just about everything that could go wrong.

Watch for our story on ICS and the festival in Fire Fighting in Canada.

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Throngs of country-music fans from all over Atlantic Canada converged on
Cavendish, P.E.I., in early July for the Cavendish Beach Music
Festival, where the incident command system was in place in case of
emergency. Photo by Laura King.

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P.E.I. Fire Marshal Dave Rossiter, FFIC editor Laura King, and
RCMP Cpl. Scott Stevenson at the Maritime Fire Chiefs Association
banquet in Summerside on July 10. Photo by Karen Rossiter.

As for the P.E.I. firefighters school – I’m told that fire school chief training officer Miles Boulter is still smiling, knowing that we’re going to feature the facility in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

And rightly so. Boulter – after whom the school’s new building and the street leading to the facility are named – is truly one of a kind, a modest, amazingly innovative and passionate fire-service leader who is admired and appreciated by, it seems, not only the island’s firefighters, but the entire province!

I first met Miles a few years ago when he was named the CAFC’s volunteer chief of the year. Miles had been nominated by Tim Jenkins, the president of the P.E.I. Firefighters Association, and Miles’s myriad accomplishments were outlined in detail at the CAFC banquet. Miles accepted the award with a simple thank you in front of 500 people. No speech. That’s not his style.

So when I ran into Miles at the MFCA conference on Monday and he asked if I was coming to see the school, I jumped at the opportunity and asked if there would be a crew on hand to light up the simulator, because, of course, while a tour of the school would be fantastic, learning more about fire behaviour would be even better.

Needless to say, within a couple of hours, Miles had a crew ready for Wednesday afternoon and – I’m not kidding – every firefighter on Prince Edward Island knew I was going to the fire school to take pictures and write a story! Telephone, telegraph, tell-a-firefighter, especially on P.E.I!

Thanks to firefighter and instructor Kory MacAusland (and Bill Gourley and the rest of the crew!), who taught me more about fire in 10 minutes on a nozzle than I’d had the opportunity to learn first-hand before, and to fire school guru Rick Niblett, and, of course, Miles, for their patience as I asked 100 questions and made them wait and pose and change position and demonstrate as I took dozens of pictures from different angles. There’ll be lots of detail in our story!

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Miles Boulter shows off the P.E.I. Firefighters Association training facility’s simulator. Photo by Laura King.

One final note – we ran a short story on our website last Thursday about the appointment of Shayne Mintz as the NFPA’s new Canadian regional director.

The NFPA has not yet officially announced Mintz’s appointment, but word travelled like, well, wildfire, last week after Ontario Fire Marshal Ted Wieckawek announced to OFM staff that Mintz was leaving, and my BlackBerry started buzzing.

What was it I said earlier? Telephone, telegraph, tell . . .

I spoke with Mintz briefly Thursday evening and I’m looking forward to the return of the NFPA Impact column in Fire Fighting in Canada after a lengthy absence while the NFPA sought a successor to Sean Tracey, who is now with Ottawa Fire Services.

Mintz is well respected in the GTA; I expect, if he follows in Tracey’s footsteps – from coast to coast to coast many times over – that you will have an opportunity to meet him soon at a conference near you.


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