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Sept. 8, 2011

Ottawa Fire Chief John DeHooge is well respected across Canada for his leadership and vision and he’s hoping to spread his skills and talents even further.

September 8, 2011 
By Laura King

Sept. 8, 2011

Ottawa Fire Chief John DeHooge is well respected across Canada for his leadership and vision and he’s hoping to spread his skills and talents even further.

DeHooge announced last week that he is running for second vice-president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs for 2012. If his campaign is successful, he will be the highest-ranking Canadian on the IAFC board in 28 years, since former Cambridge, Ont., Fire Chief Doug Pollington completed his term as president in 1983 (Pollington died in July). Presumably, DeHooge would move up to first vice-president, and then to IAFC president.

The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs executive and board of directors has unanimously endorsed DeHooge’s candidacy, and other fire-service leaders have e-mailed me asking that we get the word out.


“On behalf of the Canadian fire service, I can attest to John’s integrity, professionalism and dedication,” CAFC president Rob Simonds says on the CAFC’s website.

“John is highly respected by his peers and I would respectfully request that you consider endorsing John . . . ”

As one former fire chief noted today, having a Canadian president of the IAFC on Parliament Hill during the CAFC’s government relations week would, presumably, make a big impact on MPs and would help to bolster the messages that fire-service leaders have been trying to impart to Ottawa about fire-service funding.

DeHooge is the IAFC’s Canadian division director and notes on his website that fire services in Canada and the U.S. face similar issues.

“With only $11 million nationally, Canadian fire services arguably have more challenges in securing federal funding; we are faced with similar challenges in securing the 700MHz (D Block) spectrum for emergency responders. Political advocacy, volunteer firefighter recruitment, retention, firefighter safety and collection of national performance data remain at the forefront of our legislative agenda.”

You can see Chief DeHooge’s bio, platform and endorsements on his website at The 2012 election of officers happens in May and results are published in July. Elected officers will be sworn in at Fire-Rescue International 2012 in Denver in August.

Speaking of elections, we’ve been following the OPFFA on Twitter (@opffa, #firefightersformcguinty) for some time. Yesterday, the association launched its Fire Fighters for McGuinty campaign in Ontario.

It’s hard to miss the flaming yellow/orange (but not NDP orange!) OPFFA RV – it was here in Oakville yesterday afternoon – with the slogan “FIRE FIGHTERS FOR McGUINTY, There’s Too Much At Stake” painted on the sides and the back.

The OPFFA website says that for the next four weeks, “professional fire fighters from all over Ontario will be accompanying a customized RV on a tour of the province; attending rallies and 'working in the trenches' on the campaign trail – doing flyer drops, pounding signs and speaking with voters. They will be wearing their signature gold and black shirts, emblazoned with Fire Fighters for McGuinty.”

I’m told that certain union officers have been asked by the association to work the campaign extensively during the run up to the Oct. 6 provincial election and have told their chiefs they need time off to work the hustings.

News stories from the last few weeks note that the OPFFA backs McGuinty because he supported the association in its quest for presumptive legislation and mandatory retirement.

In June, OPFFA president Fred LeBlanc told the Ottawa Citizen that, "Beyond just the legislative achievements we've had in the last eight years, what's truly important is the relationship. It is the first time, in my tenure at least, that I look back at how a government has treated professional firefighters, and I can truly say we're respected and were treated like a real partner."

Should firefighters associations endorse political candidates? Vote in our poll on our home page at

Still on the subject of campaigns, Toronto firefighters are rallying against proposed budget cuts that could mean 400 fewer firefighting jobs, 20 fewer trucks, and longer response times.

The campaign – – a play on Mayor Rob Ford’s famous (infamous?) election platform to stop the gravy train and reduce wasteful spending, kicked off this week with a telephone town hall involving 1,600 members of the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters Association.

From where I sit, the union has a lot of work to do. Mainstream media coverage of the issue has repeatedly tried to explain the fact that while there are fewer fires these days (we all know why), the cost of running fire departments continues to increase (we all know why). Some reports have said simply that Toronto Fire Services is responding to more medical calls to justify its existence – an interesting take on things without much background info.

There’s enough misinformation out there to sufficiently confuse city councillors, who will vote on the proposed 2012 budget in January.

It’s been an interesting several weeks as we’ve prepared our coverage of the 10th anniversary of 9-11. Winnipeg firefighter Jay Shaw is blogging for us from New York (he arrives in the Big Apple tomorrow), we’ve posted 9-11 memorial walls on our and websites where readers can share their thoughts and memories, and the September issue of Fire Fighting in Canada is online under current issue (on the left-hand side of the home page at and in the digital edition box at the top right of the home page.

Here’s one story about 9-11 that I stumbled across in the Toronto Star this morning, about a 9-11 musical that’s being staged in Gander, N.L., tonight and tomorrow night. Read the Star story – no kidding, it’s a good read! – then click here to read our feature interview with Brian Hicks, fire chief at Gander International Airport, about his 9-11 experience.

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