Fire Fighting in Canada

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Jessop joins OFM as part of reorganization

Jan. 28, 2014, Toronto – Fire-safety advocate Jim Jessop, who was instrumental in the push for mandatory sprinklers in retirement homes in Ontario, is leaving his job as deputy chief in London, Ont., to join the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM).

January 28, 2014
By Laura King

Jan. 28, 2014, Toronto – Fire-safety advocate Jim Jessop, who was instrumental in the push for mandatory sprinklers in retirement homes in Ontario, is leaving his job as deputy chief in London, Ont., to join the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM).

Fire Marshal Ted Wieckawek announced the appointment in a memo to staff Tuesday morning, along with two internal moves that are part of a reorganization as the OFM integrates emergency management into its responsibilities.

The government announced Aug. 15 that it would combine the OFM and Emergency Management Ontario to better co-ordinate community safety programs.

Longtime senior-level OFM staffers Al Suleman and Barney Owens are taking on new responsibilities: Suleman in prevention and risk management and Owens in emergency response.

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Jessop will be director, field and advisory services and deputy fire marshal. That means he will carry out all of powers and duties of the fire marshal when Wieclawek is away, and will direct and oversee fire-protection field advisory services, emergency management field advisory services and program delivery, community safety enhancement initiatives (including marijuana grow ops and clandestine labs), and public education initiatives.

“Jim is an acknowledged leader in promoting fire prevention in Ontario and across Canada and is passionate about improving life safety through enhancements to, and application of the Ontario Fire Code,” Wieclaewk said.

Wieclawek said Jessop’s work on the technical advisory committee on vulnerable occupancies – the committee that ultimately recommended to government that all seniors’ homes be retrofitted with sprinklers – was key to the introduction of the fire code amendments that took effect Jan. 1.

jessop-ofm
Deputy Chief Jim Jessop of London, Ont., moves to the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management on March 3. Jessop is pictured with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne during the  Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs conference in May at which Wynne announced that the government would introduce legislation to retrofit older retirement homes with sprinklers.
Photo by Laura King

Jessop was deputy chief in Niagara Falls for 12 years before moving to London in February 2013. He chairs the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs fire prevention committee and is well known for his commitment to code enforcement.

Jessop said Tuesday he is excited to join the OFMEM to help complete the integration of the two government departments and “ensure we maximize the capacity of the organization and work with all stakeholders to ensure the highest level of public safety for the citizens of Ontario.”

Suleman, who has been with the OFM since 1998, becomes director/deputy, prevention and risk management. Wieclawek said Suleman will continue to direct and oversee technical services, applied research and legislation, regulation and standards development, interpretation and application.

“In addition,” the fire marshal said, “he will lead and direct emergency management planning, exercising and program development as well as training and education standards and evaluation systems.”

Owens, meanwhile, becomes director/deputy, response, which means he is the key contact for the province’s community emergency management co-ordinators, most of whom are fire chiefs. He will also oversee fire investigation services, Wieclawek said.

Owens is well respected among fire-service leaders for his work during emergencies over the last 15 years including the 1998 ice storm, SARS, the power blackout in 2003, the Peterborough flood in 2004, major forest fires in 2011 and 2012 and, most recently, the Dec. 22 ice storm.

Jessop, Suleman and Owens all have post-secondary degrees and extensive management backgrounds, Wieclawek said.

“With Al, Jim and Barney in these roles, we now have the critical senior leadership team in place to help drive us in moving forward with integration and transforming and aligning our core programs, services and functions,” Wieclawek said.

All three appointments take effect March 3.