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From the editor: April 2010

As I sat down to write this I had just come back from a road trip through Hastings County (near Belleville, Ont.) where I was the guest speaker at a mutual-aid meeting for nine eastern Ontario fire departments.

April 12, 2010
By Laura King


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As I sat down to write this I had just come back from a road trip through Hastings County (near Belleville, Ont.) where I was the guest speaker at a mutual-aid meeting for nine eastern Ontario fire departments.

Before the meeting at the Marmora Community Centre, I toured fire halls in Trenton, Stirling-Rawdon and Marmora, all tranquil and charming spots far removed from the big-city rat race and darned proud of their fire departments.
After the meeting, I drove east on Highway 401 to Kingston, Ont., for a photo shoot.

This kind of road trip should be mandatory training for provincial and federal politicians and ministers whose portfolios include public safety.

The contrast between the rural departments, with their aging or hand-me-down pumpers and built-from-scratch rescue trucks, and the state-of-the-art technical rescue unit delivered the day before in Kingston, was startling. Sure, it’s apples and oranges – Kingston is a big city with different needs and challenges than Marmora. And while the quality of the fire fighting in Kingston and Marmora may not be any different, the quality of the equipment is an issue.

I know I’m preaching to the choir – you all know through surveys (Fire Fighting in Canada, September 2008) that volunteer departments are underfunded, their equipment is out of date and doesn’t meet NFPA standards, and they’re making do through the ingenuity and hard work of their talented members.

But with fire chiefs’ associations from coast to coast and the Canadian Governmental Committee working tirelessly to present a clear picture of the inequity to provincial and federal politicians, the road trip and its contrasting scenarios proved an interesting exercise.

The CGC, made up of fire service officials and manufacturers, expects to have its website up and running shortly (www.fema/femsacgc.org). It’s working to get the message across to Ottawa that the fire service needs federal funding to meet standards and its public safety obligations. And the chiefs’ associations are working through their provincial ministries to educate provincial governments about the risks of underfunded fire departments. But they need your help. E-mail or write to your MPP (or MLA or MNA) and your MP, or drop in to the constituency office with a Tims for a chat. Call it Lobbying 101 – a constant and consistent message from all levels of the Canadian fire service will get results. It takes time – FEMSA in the U.S. slowly but steadily built a relationship with Washington that has resulted in federal grants for fire equipment. FEMSA reps are advising the GCG on best practices. Stay tuned.


We tried to reach curler John Morris, a firefighter in Chestermere, Alta., after his Olympic gold medal performance in Vancouver with skip Kevin Martin, lead Ben Hebert and second Marc Kennedy before our March 1 deadline but the Olympian’s schedule didn’t leave much time for magazine interviews. Congratulations!



This issue features several stories on health and wellness, a growing concern for firefighters and managers, including our cover story on the trend toward 24-hour shifts (page 8) and a piece on so-called occupational athletes and the steps firefighters can take to prevent injury (page 26), along with our regular FitSmart column (page 30). Health and wellness takes on a larger presence in our sister magazine, Fire Fighting in Canada, starting next month with the introduction of a column by Ian Crosby, wellness and fitness co-ordinator with the Calgary Fire Department.


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