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FFAO: Committee reports

Convention Update

The Fire Fighters' Association of Ontario (FFAO) convention returns to Wainfleet in August and members of the Wainfleet Fire Department need our support. Come out and enjoy yourselves. It's our convention, it's our training, it's our games. It's our time to meet up with old and new friends.

In 2015, we were welcomed by Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs and Niagara Region councillor Alan Castleman, as well as Fire Chief Harry Flagg.

Brock Township firefighter Jackie Mussel brought greetings from Fire Service Women of Ontario. I would like to quote Jackie on an important message: "Women are unquestionably newer and fewer to the fire service, and yet we stand ready to proudly and competently support fire departments, chiefs and firefighters to help integrate all of these capable and dedicated individuals into the frontline roles of protecting and serving our public."

FFAO ambassador Tiffany Lensilink brought greetings, as did the president of the Wainfleet Firefighters' Association, Gord Davies.

David Conner was the speaker for the education portion of the event. Connor, a district chief with Mississauga Fire & Emergency Services, who spearheaded the department's peer team, discussed mental-health issues among firefighters, including PTSD. The presentation was excellent, with a lot of food for thought.

The Wainfleet firefighters will use the same excellent venue for the 2016 convention. We will be on the level baseball diamonds and soccer fields. Mayor Jeffs said we did an exceptional job protecting the grounds and sports fields for the kids in the community who use this space daily, and thus has welcomed us back for 2016. Everything will be on site . . . the training, education, hospitality night, trade show and the games. Come out and enjoy your convention.

The 2016 convention is going to be bigger and better. Be there. Bring a friend. Enjoy.

We are looking for a host department for 2017; Seaforth had to move the convention back a year due to a conflict with a local festival, so we are looking for a fire department with space to host this great event. Let us know if you can help.

Tentatively the future conventions look like this:
2017 – OPEN
2018 – Seaforth
2019 – Mount Forest
2020 – OPEN
2021 – OPEN

If your department would like to host a convention please contact me at convention@ffao.on.ca

John Payne
Convention chair



Specialty training on tap

Thanks to everyone for their hard work and dedication in assisting with all the training at the 2015 convention.

Since then I have been trying to organize several different training opportunities for the 2016 convention. Code 4 is confirmed for a two-day bus extrication course and I’m working with Spartan Rescue to secure a full week of specialty training such as machinery rescue tech, force the door and others.

Registration forms and course information will be posted on our website, ffao.on.ca, once courses are confirmed.

If anyone has ideas, information regarding new training opportunities or feedback, please pass it along to me. I’m always open to suggestions from members about new ways to bring wanted training ideas to reality.

Shawna Wyant
Fire prevention and education chair



Membership has its benefits

When you become a member of the Fire Fighters' Association of Ontario (FFAO), your voice is heard by our executive. The FFAO will put your ideas into action and if you have questions or concerns about issues related to fire fighting, we will work to help you get the answers you need.

We are always working to get special discounts on products and services that benefit our members and their families. Our newsletter now comes right to your doorstep, in this magazine. You are invited to quarterly meetings to listen to professionals from various trades and businesses, and from different fire departments who may help you become a better firefighter or improve the health and safety of your entire station.

We have executive members on the Ontario fire-service advisory committee under section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, who work with WSIB and who have health-and-safety training. These members can offer help with difficult issues such as line-of-duty deaths.

Memberships are available for fire departments, fire stations or individuals, fire-service related corporations or industries, and municipal, provincial and federal governments. An individual membership is just $50 per year. Fire departments can join for $50 per station, per year. Associate membership is just $200 a year and a website sponsor is $200 a year.

If you are interested in a membership or have any questions about becoming a member, please do not hesitate to contact me. We hope you'll join us.

Bevin Brooks
Membership chair



Association aims to boost membership

Our association is a flourishing and vibrant organization and we will make our presence known through our new website, ffao.on.ca

Since the annual general meeting in August, members of the Fire Fighters’ Association of Ontario (FFAO) board have been very busy organizing and reorganizing all the old and new board positions. We have provided all board members’ contact information under the About Us tab on the site and we encourage you to contact any member if you have any questions or concerns.

If you’re interested in giving back to the fire service, consider running for an office on the executive this year. You can make a difference.

We are looking to expand our membership and grow our association. We’ve proudly been a part of the Ontario fire-services community for more than 100 years. Be a part of the tradition.

I invite you to learn more about us at ffao.on.ca and follow us on Twitter @joinFFAO

John Payne
Board chair

Executive President: Chris Karpinchick (Karpy)
Past president: Dave Carruthers
1st vice president: vacant
2nd vice president: Ron King
Secretary: Veronda Brydges
Treasurer: Gilles Boisvert

Board of directors Chair: John Payne
Director: William S. Burns
Director: Brad Patton
Director: Dennis Thain
Director: Marion Kuiper-Lampman

Committee chairs
Credentials: Karen Brooks
Convention: John Payne
Fire prevention & education: Shawna Wyant
Fire services society: Marion Kuiper-Lampman
Games and competitions: Steve Pandur
Laws and legislation: Wayne Nie
Membership: Bevin Brooks
Occupational health and safety: Jeri Ottley, Jonathan Karn

Padre: Rev. Stephen Berryman
Sergeant at arms/regalia: John Uptegrove
Training: Shawna Wyant
Ways and means: Linda Carruthers



Consider running for office

We had a very successful convention in Wainfleet in August and I am certainly looking forward to an even better performance this summer.

With that in mind, it is time to start thinking of nominations for the next term of office so we can ensure that we continue to move forward with the goals of the Fire Fighters’ Association of Ontario.

Nomination forms for the next term of office are available on our website, ffao.on.ca. If you or a friend are considering stepping forward to volunteer your services, now is the time.

Remember it is your association and it is up to the members to keep the FFAO strong and vibrant.

Dave Carruthers
Immediate past president



Clarity for 2016 firefighter games

I learned a lot running the games and I apologize for any problems. The 2016 games will be run by the FFAO rules and guidelines.

I am in the process of putting all the rules and layouts in simple form on signs that will be posted at the games so the there is no misunderstanding about what’s expected at each event.

I would like to thank everyone who helped me run the games. There are too many names to remember, but you know who you are, and I appreciate your support. Special thanks to Dave Thompson, Rob Timmson and Ted Lucas of the Niagara District Fire Fighters Association for judging the games.

Congratulations to everyone who took part.

We also ran a successful game day for the children, which went over really well; every child who participated won a prize. Grand Valley set up its children's water ball, which was a blast for everyone.

I would also like to thank Christine Willick and Brandon and Brittany Keller from Wainfleet for all their help.

Extra special thanks to co-chair Beckers Devris; without her help in setting all these events up, this would have been impossible to manage. Thank you so much!

Steve Pandur
Games chair



Remembering the fallen

The memorial parade and service at the Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst in June was a great success thanks to the support from the OFC, King Township honour guard and various chapters of the Red Knights. We hope to see you all this year, on Saturday June 25.

The memorial parade and service held at the FFAO convention in Wainfleet also had a good turn out. The event was officiated by our padre, Rev. Stephen Berryman. I know most of the membership stayed the weekend, not wanting to miss the parade and service to our departed.

In September, I attended the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation memorial parade in Ottawa. First, I attended the Ottawa Fire Department service and parade for its fallen members on the Friday. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Sunday was the national event, and although we all got drenched in the rain, it did not deter us from paying our respects to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and to the families they left behind.

On Oct. 2 and 3, I attended the funeral of acting Capt. John Kovacs, of the Tillsonburg Fire Department.

The Ontario memorial parade and service that was to be held on Oct. 4, 2015, was cancelled due to construction around the site at Queen’s Park. Due to safety reasons, the organizing committee deemed it fit to honour the names of those departed at a ceremony next year. I will post that date when it is confirmed.

I would like all of you to consider attending some of these memorials as they are special time to remember and honour those with whom we have worked and those who have made the fire service what it is today.

For more details contact me at memorial@ffao.on.ca 

Dennis Thain
Director and memorial chair



Navigating the health-and-safety process

As I was driving home from another funeral for a firefighter struck down by cancer, I could not get something out of my mind: it was a conversation I had while standing outside the church before the funeral service was to begin for acting Capt. John Kovacs of the Tillsonburg Fire Department. A woman approached me. She was confused as to why Captain Kovacs’ passing due to cancer was being reported as a line-of-duty death. I responded with a phrase that I had heard at another funeral: “He did not die in a fire. He died because he was at the fires.” This seemed to clear it up for her but still left a nagging sadness in my heart.

The difficult thing to grasp about cancer is that the disease hits us years after we have been exposed to hazardous situations, and the accumulated effects of those exposures continue throughout a firefighter’s career. In the past we took of our packs off as soon as we could and I shudder to think what we breathed in when doing overhaul.

Today, the only advice I can give my fellow firefighters is to always wear air packs or respirators when we are in contact with any possible off gases. When you think about it, that makes a lot of sense even if it is uncomfortable. Also educate yourselves about the chemicals and carcinogens to which we are being exposed and how to deal with them safely. Start with the guidance notes of the Ontario fire-service advisory committee under section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and your own department’s SOPs. Learn how to minimize the dangers.

One last thought: at the point of being diagnosed with a cancer a firefighter and his or her family are overwhelmed. It is devastating news. Then, the families tries to deal with Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) on top of everything else. The presumptive legislation that has been put in place makes this process a lot easier but does not make it automatic. Also, there are a number of other benefits that families may have to ask for that may not be offered up front, unless the family knows to ask for them. Anybody who has ever had to deal with WSIB knows its seems to speak a different language. This makes it difficult to understand what is needed to speed the process along. The adjudicators at WSIB are not trying to put something over on you; they just have to work within a bureaucracy that can be frustrating at best.

That is where I can help. I have a working knowledge of “comp-eeze.” Please feel free to contact me with your questions. I can guide you through the process and advocate on behalf of our members.

Jeri Ottley
Health and safety chair



February 2, 2016
By FFAO Committee