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FFAO: Expanding our reach through new media strategy

The Fire Fighters' Association of Ontario is moving with the times to ensure we are an organization that remains relevant and supportive to our membership, building on a proud tradition and looking ahead to a strong future. Change is necessary.

One of the most important steps has been creating a new partnership with Annex Business Media. We are proud to have a home for our communications in the pages of Canadian Firefighter, a publication our membership enjoys, and a place through which future members will learn about us too. Although this new relationship ends the FFAO's independent publication, we believe Canadian Firefighter offers relevant information, feature stories and issues around education and training that represent the values of our membership. Stay current with us here.

Moving with the times with the help of a local media expert Kelly Waterhouse, we've created a new user-friendly website, complete with a mobile-friendly format. Members have instant access to timely information, direct contacts to the resources that will support their needs, and the opportunity for fire departments to promote their fundraising and education events. From buying a membership to filling out executive nominations, booking a campsite for the 2016 convention, or finding out when we're meeting again, it's all online and accessible to everyone, any time.

Follow us on Twitter; get connected and stay in touch.

While some things needed to change, the FFAO knows our roots are in the community of firefighters we serve. While we all work hard, we like to play hard too. But we're at our best we can do both. Thus, a highlight for the FFAO is the annual convention.

The 2015 convention, hosted by the Wainfleet Fire Department, was a great success. From education and training opportunities to the meetings and trade show, we packed a lot into this week-long gathering. The social events, camping and family friendly atmosphere makes this convention an opportunity for firefighters of all ages and stages to come together as a community. The firefighter games created some friendly competition and the children's activities made the experience something everyone could enjoy.

We thank the Wainfleet crew, not only for hosting us in 2015, but for doing such a fine job that we're heading back there this year on July 25 to Aug. 1. Don't miss out. We've planned a two-day bus extrication course offered by Code 4, and are working with Spartan Rescue for a full week of specialty training.

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Our new FFAO executive is working hard to ensure we stay true to our roots, continue to forge ahead by staying relevant and offering our membership benefits and services that support them, and their families. We offer experience and knowledge with issues such as the section 21 committee and presumptive legislation. We can offer assistance with WSIB claims, and difficult issues such as line-of-duty deaths, and other benefits that families may not know about, to which they are entitled in the case of injury or tragedy. The FFAO executive is here to help and will advocate on your behalf.

Honouring our past is an important part of the FFAO's mandate, and we actively participate in several memorial services each year, including the memorial parade and service in Ottawa, and the annual gathering at the Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst. Please consider joining us there on Saturday, June 25, when we honour our fallen.

Throughout the year, our quarterly meetings are structured to offer professional speakers from various trades within the fire service to educate our membership on issues relevant to our work, education and safety standard. We are always working to improve our programs and provide current courses that will benefit firefighters. The only way to be the best is to learn from the best.

Over the next year, we will be increasing membership benefits, planning ahead for education and training, and looking for ways to keep the current membership engaged while welcoming new members.

As the FFAO looks to the future, we welcome new members, be it individuals, fire departments or businesses who understand the value of continuing an organization that has proudly been a part of the fire service in this province for over 100 years. Consider being a part of our tradition.

Chris Karpinchick
President, Fire Fighters Association of Ontario

February 2, 2016
By Chris Karpinchick

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