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Nov. 20, 2013, Niagara Falls, Ont. – A bit of an update to yesterday’s post but don’t worry, more generalities and fewer details and acronyms.

November 20, 2013 
By Laura King

Nov. 20, 2013, Niagara Falls, Ont. – A bit of an update to yesterday’s post but don’t worry, more generalities and fewer details and acronyms.

I talked Tuesday about Ontario’s integrated risk management system (IRM), a tool to help fire chiefs determine the levels of service in their municipalities in accordance with needs, circumstances and the ability to fund. I won’t rehash the details, you can catch up here.

We learned yesterday afternoon that after months – years, actually – of work, primarily by the Office of the Fire Marshal – the IRM will be available to fire chiefs on Jan. 31. We also learned that the tool will be online and accessible through user passwords, rather than through Excel and requiring software.

As the OFM’s Pierre Yelle noted, the IRM will help municipalities “establish appropriate levels of service by integrating all three lines of defence to meet their legislative obligations in the Fire Protection and Prevention Act.”


Minto Fire Chief Chris Harrow put it more simply: the tool will allow fire chiefs to identify gaps.

The reverse engineering format of the IRM, he said, should resonate with councils.

“You’re able to say, these are the results we got on [the analysis of] this building, but if we saturate it with public education . . . then this is the result we’re going to get; it’s concrete evidence on how you can improve things.”

The timing is interesting given that the morning session on Tuesday was devoted to training on the province’s proposed new regulation on vulnerable occupancies – in other words, better fire prevention and protection for seniors and other vulnerable groups.

There’s a lot of background to this issue – several fire deaths in retirement residences, several inquests that all recommended that older seniors homes be retrofitted with sprinklers, 39 recommendations from the inquest into the Muskoka Heights retirement home fire in Orillia in 2009, and an OFM review that resulted in the proposed stand-alone regulation under the FPPA.

There are 4,200 seniors homes in Ontario; at $2,000 per bed to retrofit, the cost is estimated at half a billon dollars.

Besides the cost and the necessary training for owners of these homes, there’s a fair bit of increased responsibility for fire chiefs.

Fire Marshal Ted Wieclawek assured chiefs in May at the OAFC’s annual conference that his office would help them deal with the workload that will result from fire-code amendments aimed at better protecting seniors and other Ontarians who live in certain types of care homes.

Wieclawek said that when the legislation is implemented, fire departments will be expected to maintain a list of care homes in their areas, inspect the homes, approve fire-safety plans, and conduct and evaluate fire drills and evacuations. Yesterday morning’s presentation focused on all those issues.

Wieclawek speaks at the mid-term meeting later this morning.

Speaking of which, I got a friendly tweet yesterday reminding me that the Office of the Fire Marshal – the OFM – is now the Office of Fire Marshal and Emergency Management – OFMEM – and that I should get used to the new five-letter acronym, which, of course, consumes two extra characters in a tweet. Not a chance.

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