Department news
Written by Fire Fighting in Canada
Apr. 15, 2019, Oakville, Ont. - The Oakville Fire Department Auto Extrication team has been selected by the Transportation Emergency Rescue Committee to represent Canada and the U.S. at the World Rescue Organization Challenge in La Rochelle, France this September.

The team is comprised of professional firefighters who develop their skills, represent their department and educate the community on their own personal free time. The team was started in 2003 and strives to contribute to the community, and skill development within the fire department.

Competing and learning from other departments all over the world and some of the leading experts in the field of extrication will offer a great opportunity for the team members to gain some new knowledge. This will not only benefit the team members, but will be something the team can bring back to their department and the citizens and visitors of Oakville that we serve.

What is Auto Extrication?
The safe removal and treatment of victims who are trapped by some type of vehicle, machinery or equipment.

Vehicle Rescue Challenges & Learning Symposiums

These events are held across North America and provide emergency services an opportunity to come together and share techniques, new ideas and be exposed to new technology in the field of vehicle extrication. These events ensure departments keep up with changes in vehicle construction, and new innovations in safety. Participation in these events allows emergency responders to gain specialized life-saving knowledge that can be taken back and used in the community we serve.

The Role of the Team:
• Attend learning symposiums/rescue competitions where the team can learn about new car technology, methods, tool innovations and developments in vehicle construction and safety.
• Practice, develop and apply these skills and techniques to be more efficient in extricating and treating patients at emergency calls.
• Pass on this knowledge to their department so that all rescuers can also effectively rescue and treat victims in a timely manner.
• Attend Oakville public events and educate the community on vehicle safety and what to do if you are involved in an accident.

The Competition:
• The team is comprised of six members. A captain, medic and four rescuers.
• The team travels across North America to compete in Auto Extrication against other departments from around the world. There are two 20 minute events and one 10 minute event in which they compete. These events are Unlimited Pit (All tools permitted), Limited Pit (no powered hydraulics permitted. i.e. jaws of life) and the Rapid Pit (10 min event to simulate a patient crashing and needing immediate removal).
• During the different pits, judges follow the team members and grade their performance. Marks are based on command presence and control, patient care, tool use, tool knowledge and overall safety.
• Main Awards - first, second and third for all the pits, Overall award, Best Medic and Best Incident Commander.
• Approximately 20 teams compete and from all over North America and Europe.

Sponsorship Opportunities:

Participation in Vehicle Rescue Challenges and Learning Symposiums requires a substantial commitment of time and money. The Town of Oakville, and the Oakville Professional Firefighters Association provide financial and operational support. In order to successfully train and attend Vehicle Rescue Challenges and Learning Symposiums, the team members must raise additional funds to help cover the costs involved. These expenses include entry fees equipment, travel costs and accommodations. These expenses average over $15,000 per year.

For more information on sponsorship opportunities and how you or your department could help out visit the team’s Facebook page.
Written by Grant Cameron
Vaughan Fire & Rescue Service (VFRS) recently received a $10,000 grant from TransCanada for its firefighter camp for young women ages 15 to 18 years. 
Written by Grant Cameron
The Brantford Fire Department is honouring those who served in the First World War in a unique way, The Brantford Expositor reports  | READ MORE

Written by Grant Cameron
Gayanne Pacholzuk, a fire prevention officer with the Kelowna Fire Department in British Columbia, will be bringing the message of fire safety to elementary school children in Ethiopia in November.

Pacholzuk is joining a medical team from RESTOR International that is going to the African country to provide free, life-altering surgeries to children and young adults with disabling and disfiguring contractures as a result of burns.

“I look forward to being a part of the RESTOR team this year and being able to share my knowledge with Ethiopian people in hopes that some of the burn injuries can be prevented in the future,” she said.

Pacholzuk, who has more than 21 years in the fire service, will work with the fire department in Bahir Dar and oversee the translation of fire prevention educational materials into Amharic, the official language in Ethiopia.

At the Kelowna department, she oversees fire inspections, fire investigations, and public education. She is very active in the push for fire prevention and awareness across Canada and is president with the Fire Prevention Officer’s Association of B.C.

Pacholzuk is on a committee for the National Building Code as well as two technical committees with the National Fire Protection Association, specializing in life safety in buildings and building construction.

She is also very active with the B.C. Professional Firefighters Burn Fund and has volunteered as a camp counsellor for the past six summers at a camp for children who are burn survivors.

RESTOR International said in a statement that the organization is thrilled to have Pacholzuk accompany the team to teach a sample program in elementary schools.

RESTOR is a non-profit, humanitarian organization that helps disadvantaged children and adults in developing countries.
Written by Grant Cameron
Toronto Fire Services has launched an advertising and public education campaign aimed at encouraging smokers in the Parkdale area of the city to stop tossing their cigarette butts. 

Data shows that Parkdale, over a five-year period, had more fires started from careless smoking than any other area of Toronto. Many of these fires occurred on balconies as a result of tenants discarding their lit cigarette butts by throwing them from their balconies. 

The campaign includes transit shelter posters, restobar (combined restaurant and bar) ads, posters on construction hoarding sites in the Parkdale neighbourhood, as well as geo-targeted social media and features two themes. The first campaign design depicts a hand holding a lit cigarette with the tagline, "Don't be a flicking idiot … tossed butts start fires." The second design shows a teddy bear on fire with the tagline, "Kill your butts, not your neighbours … tossed butts start fires." 

The advertising campaign will continue through November 11. A public education campaign will be carried out in conjunction with the ad campaign that will include firefighters visiting businesses and residents to convey the message that cigarette butts need to be completely extinguished before being discarded. 

"With this ad campaign, we're reminding residents that we all are responsible for keeping each other safe from fire," said Fire Chief and General Manager Matthew Pegg. "Our message is simple. Make sure your cigarettes are completely extinguished before you discard them, and discard them properly." 

"Parkdale is a tight-knit community that is known for being unique, colourful and diverse," said Gord Perks, the councillor of Ward 14. "What Parkdale should not be known for is the neighbourhood with the most fires due to careless smoking. This fire services campaign aims to change that fact and I'm confident we can reduce the number of fires started by improperly extinguished cigarette butts." 

To help highlight this issue, generic fire prevention messaging is being augmented with specific messaging to target residents who live in the fire-prone area of Parkdale. This campaign is the first done by Toronto Fire Services to focus on a specific area and target audience in an effort to deliver relevant, impactful and behaviour-changing communications. A public education risk assessment that included risks, geographic profiles, demographic profiles and marketing profiles aided in message targeting. 

Through this targeted ad campaign, Toronto Fire Services encourages Parkdale residents to understand the true cost of careless smoking and persuades them to adopt safer smoking habits. More information is available at

For a video of the announcement go to

Written by Jeff Grant
I’m an 18-year veteran and fire chief of a small fire department in the West Kootenays of British Columbia. We average around 100 calls a year and work on a small budget.

Throughout my years as a member of this hall and now as fire chief, I learned how to overcome some of the hardships and struggles that a small-budget firehall goes through.

We all want to provide the best coverage and response to our community. This does not change, no matter the size of your hall.

We recently realized that an area that needed improvement was how we respond to medical incidents.

We started with using one of our engines.

This worked, but proved difficult in winter conditions and due to the amount of long, narrow driveways we faced.

So, we purchased a second hand 1984 GMC 4x4 to make it easier to respond.

We soon realized that this was the way to go. The 1984 proved to be a great truck, as long as you let it warm up and had an idea of how a carburetor works. With the changing demographic in membership, this proved to be a struggle.

We finally saved enough money to replace the truck. With a budget of $50,000, I started to hunt.

It wasn’t long before I realized that this amount of money was not going to get us far, so I started to look at other options. Soon, I came up with the idea of building our own vehicle.

I found a truck at a repossession lot. It was a 2014 Ford F350 with a contractor’s-style canopy. Perfect!

We bought the truck and drove it eight hours home from Vancouver. Then we went to work.

We installed a centre console to house the radio, siren, and other hard-mounted items.

We bought a light bar and other emergency lights off Internet providers.

We removed some of the old hardware from our existing truck and had a local decal company do the graphics.

At the end of the project, we ended up with a nearly new, much safer rescue truck for less than half our original budget.

Since then, we’ve had truck manufacturers look at this rig and ask who built it. It looks that good.

We were able to do this as a result of something I learned a long time ago, and that was to use your resources.

One of my captains is a 12-volt technician, another a mechanic, and still another is a welder-fabricator. I gave these members free reign of the work on the truck and soon we had a fully functional rescue truck.

I learned to let members use their natural ability, and instead of holding them back with rules and regulations, enable them with support and give them the tools they need to do the job.

We weren’t done yet.

We had this 1984 GMC that we knew we were going to get nothing for if we tried to sell it. So, we came up with the idea to transform it into a wildland truck.

So again, I started looking around and found a used skid unit in Kansas. Through grant money I sourced out, we were able to purchase and have the unit shipped to Canada.

When the unit arrived, it was in a state of disrepair. My members stepped up and took over. The skid unit was fully disassembled and rebuilt. The pump engine and everything was gone through or rebuilt.

This again proved to me that using your resources and the natural ability or skills of your members pays huge dividends. Soon, we had a fully functional wildland truck for a fraction of the price of new equipment.

So, not only were we able to build a fully functional rescue truck, we also built a fully functional wildland truck – both in a year and for under $25,000.

This is something we are very proud of.

Not only is there a level of pride involved with responding with something you built, but we know exactly how it was put together.

Using the natural ability of your members can be a huge benefit to a small volunteer hall.

As almost everyone knows, there is not enough time in the day to tackle all we want to as a volunteer hall. With families and full-time jobs to hold down this is proving to be more of a struggle as the years go on.

I feel very fortunate to have accomplished what we have and look forward to the next challenge.

Jeff Grant is fire chief of the Robson Volunteer Fire Department in Robson, B.C. Contact Jeff at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Written by Grant Cameron
The New Victoria Fire Department in Nova Scotia has been named one of the winners of the 2018 Globe Gear Giveaway program.

The program is a partnership of Globe by MSA, DuPont Protection Solutions and the National Volunteer Fire Council.

The department will get four new sets of state-of-the-art turnout gear.

“Our members are dedicated and take much pride in our department,” said deputy chief Andrew Petrie. “Receiving this gear will be a great morale boost for our members. Thank you to Globe, DuPont, and the NVFC for this opportunity to help make our responders safe.”

The New Victoria Fire Department is on the mouth of Sydney Harbour in the most northeastern part of Nova Scotia. The department responds to an average of 120 calls a year, serving about 5,000 residents over 100 square miles.

Department personnel train hard to ensure they are ready to respond. However, about half of its 22 volunteers must wear gear that is more than 10 years old and not up to recommended standards.

This year, Globe by MSA, DuPont Protection Solutions and the National Volunteer Fire Council are giving away 52 sets of turnout gear to 13 North American fire departments that serve populations of 25,000 or less.

Now in its seventh year, the program works to enhance the safety and capabilities of small-town fire departments across the U.S. and Canada. Recipients are being announced monthly throughout the year.
Written by CTV News
Feb. 3, 2017, Barrie, Ont. - Barrie and Springwater fire services are warning businesses and home owners to be on alert for a fake fire inspector known to frequent the area. The fire department in Springwater was recently made aware of an unlicensed person claiming to be a fire inspector. The fire department said his license to inspect fire equipment has not been verified. CTV News reports. | READ MORE

Written by Maria Church
July 27, 2016 - Public education at the Calgary Fire Department has gone to the dogs – and it's helping draw attention to fire-safety messages. 

Paul Aziz, a community safety officer with the Calgary Fire Department, shared with us a fire-safety video that stars Flint, a retired search and rescue dog. The video has already been viewed almost 1,500 times on YouTube.

". . . we are finding it is getting the message across to kids as well as adults," Aziz said in an email, adding that he is more than happy to share the video with fire services across Canada.
Written by Haida Siegmann and Jennifer Dawkins
June 24, 2016, Vancouver - Many fire departments have a diversity agenda, but few have an outreach team to help encourage diverse communities to join fire services. What can those who are not decision makers do to further diversity in our departments? How about getting a group of your fire pals together, and creating a firefighting camp for teenage girls?

That is exactly what a group of female firefighters from the Metro Vancouver area did in 2011. Modeled after a similar program in New York state, Camp Ignite is an annual four-day/three-night camp in the Metro Vancouver area for teenage girls of all cultures. Now in its sixth year, Camp Ignite is organized by a volunteer committee of female firefighters and delivered in partnership with several fire departments as a co-operative instruction venture between volunteer mentors and fire department duty crews.

Up to 20 teenage girls complete the program annually. Participants develop new skills such as CPR and fire-extinguisher training, and, through participating in challenging fire-training scenarios, surpass their personal expectations, explore where they thought their boundaries were, and have the opportunity to surpass them. The young women climb a 100-foot aerial ladder, rappel down the outside of a building, ride a fire truck and take a hydrant, don a full hazmat suit, use auto-extrication tools on a wrecked car, as well search a smoke house, locate and rescue a victim. Completing those tasks can help boost a young woman's self esteem, and it's something they will never forget.

For the fire-department mentors, the opportunity to influence and support these young women is beyond fulfilling. To hear a young woman say that she can do anything she wants to do in this world fills a mentor with pride and helps keep the flame of passion for community service flowing. Many of these young women complete camp and want to be firefighters – how could they not!

Camp Ignite not only provides young women with opportunities to empower themselves, but they have fun, make new friends, and learn from strong female role models.
"Over the years I have had the privilege of receiving the guidance and mentorship from many men and women across the fire service," said former peer mentor Ashley Lewis. "Programs such as the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services Youth Academy and Camp Ignite have allowed me to meet and learn from the men and women that have been my inspiration while pursuing a career in the fire service. I will be forever grateful for all the guidance I have received and aspire to be as great as the men and women who have inspired me."

Fire departments involved with Camp Ignite can participate by sponsoring a camper, hosting the event, and promoting their department to young women who may be interested in pursuing a career in fire fighting. A hosting department may have up to 30 young women and female firefighters on site participating in firefighting activities.

To date Camp Ignite has been hosted by 10 different municipalities in the Vancouver area with two new fire departments hosting in 2016 – Mission Fire/Rescue Service and Langley Township Fire Department. A live-fire training day is offered in conjunction with the Justice Institute of BC Fire & Safety Division at the Maple Ridge campus. The camp offers no shortage of opportunities to cultivate cultural growth in the fire service and showcase men and women working together successfully.

Each year the number of firefighting camps for young women taking place throughout North America grows. In 2013, Camp Ignite hosted a firefighter from Cal Fire – California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection – who was interested in organizing a program in her state. Camp Cinder is now in its third year in California. In 2015, a team from Spokane, Wash., visited Camp Ignite to look into starting a camp in the region. More and more people in the fire service recognize camps as an effective way to give back and be proactive in a diversity initiative.

Camp Ignite provides a venue that encourages more women to explore the fire service as a career choice, whether it is directly through participation, through conversations about the camp with family, friends and relatives, or as a result of raising the profile of women and men successfully working together in the fire service.

Will this grassroots initiative result in an organic increase in recruitment? Time will tell, but the young women who participate in Camp Ignite are moving into the fire services. Camp Ignite's first campers are getting serious about careers and a number of them are now volunteer firefighters, or are following a path to become first responders. Some former campers are exploring other male-dominated careers. A 2011 peer mentor, who is currently working as a volunteer firefighter, is in the final stages of the hiring process with a large career department – she will be the first participant of Camp Ignite to realize a position as a full-time firefighter.

Twenty campers may not sound like a large number, but it is significant, especially in a province that currently has about 80 female full-time firefighters. Camp Ignite is successful, and the results are making a difference, yet it is just one solution in a path to a diverse fire service. More importantly, Camp Ignite is a solution brought to you by the members of the fire service who are on the front lines supporting communities each and every day.

For more information about Camp Ignite, please visit or follow on Facebook at CAMP IGNITE.

Haida Siegmann is captain of the fire prevention office for North Vancouver City Fire Department. Jennifer Dawkins is a firefighter for Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services.
Written by Maria Church
April 22, 2016 - Camaraderie, brotherhood and the passing on of knowledge were themes discussed at the second annual Honour Guard Convention held in Niagara Falls, Ont., in February.

Close to 60 firefighters from 14 departments took part in the convention – more than double the number of participants in the inaugural year.

Organizer Jan-Michael Reyner, a member of the Kitchener Fire Honour Guard in Ontario, said the event aims to celebrate the tradition of honour guards and to lend a hand to new departments.

"There are a lot of departments that are just getting involved in honour guard and they're just trying to get one established and there is no where to go to do that, whether it be learning about your uniform set up, your marching, the tools required," Reyner said.

Guest speakers included Tim Bohr, a 10-year firefighter with the Westbury Fire Department in New York, as well as Jordan Paris, a 14-year firefighter with Brampton Fire and Emergency Services, and John Clare, Brampton district chief and a director with the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

The speakers emphasized the role of comradeship, passed on tips and lessons learned from years of service, and discussed the annual CFFF memorial service.

The convention included a uniform display and attendees were encouraged to bring a complete honour guard uniform and other items from their departments.

"I had all these tables set up to display things, and when I left the room at about 3 p.m. – the venue started at five – there were only two tunics hanging there," Reyner recalled. "When I came back down at 4:55, the whole room was full and they had actually used the tables that were supposed to have our food on for more display. It was a proud moment for me to see that there were so many more people who were that enthusiastic about bringing their stuff and showing it off."

Kitchener Fire Department Deputy Rob Martin said the only component missing at this year's convention was sponsorship from vendors.

"There's a lot of honour and tradition that goes into the fire service and the honour guard is really the tip of that spear representing us," Martin said. "When a vendor shows up and supports something like that, it's supporting the entire fire service."

Reyner hopes to grow the convention to include honour guards from departments across North America and is working on forming an organizing committee. The next convention will be held in February 2017.

Learn more about the honour guard convention at
Written by Maria Church
April 5, 2016 - A partnership among Globe, DuPont Protection Technologies and the United-States-based National Volunteer Fire Council is once again giving away gear to 13 North American departments. Canadian Firefighter reports. | READ MORE
Written by Maria Church
April 5, 2016 - The Surrey Fire Service in British Columbia has created a brochure to teach firefighters what they can do to reduce their risks for cancer. Canadian Firefighter reports. | READ MORE
Written by Maria Church
Feb. 24, 2016 - An assistance-based program that offers low-income families and homeowners with physical barriers free combination smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms is helping a northern Ontario department keep its community and firefighters safe.

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue partnered with Union Gas and the Fire Marshal's Public Fire Safety Council though Project Zero to launch the SAFE (Smoke/CO alarms for everyone) program late last year.

Union Gas donated $3,000 towards combination smoke/CO alarms that will be installed in about 100 homes in the community. Residents qualify for the program based on demonstrated financial or accessibility needs.

Ontario passed legislation in 2014 that requires all homes to have a working carbon monoxide alarm on every level.

Fire Chief John Hay said compliance in the community is growing, but increasing awareness of the dangers of CO is an ongoing challenge for the department.

"Any medical call we go to now, all our firefighters on their medical bags carry CO detectors; it's turned on before they go into the building," Hay said. "There have been firefighters and paramedics who have been hurt and hospitalized after going to a call for an unconscious [person] and finding extremely high levels of CO."

Hay said the SAFE program is also another method for fire prevention and public-education staff to engage with the community and encourage compliance.

"It does bring a little bit more awareness," he said, "but our prevention activities with our fire trucks with our suppression staff is getting the most value."

The SAFE program runs until the department hands out all its combination alarms, but Hay said he hopes to create a similar program in the future with other sponsors.
Written by Maria Church
Feb. 24, 2016 - Roomy is a good way to describe the new fire station that is now home to members of Belleville Fire & Emergency Services in Ontario.

Firefighters moved into the new 22,500 square-foot hall in June last year, and Chief Mark MacDonald said, they brought more than 60 years worth of equipment that was previously stored in a 5,000 square-foot station.

"It was an adjustment," MacDonald said. "Over the years you adapt to shoehorn in to fit what you can. You get used to being crammed in."

The new six-bay, two-storey station – one of four operated by the department – is now the operational hub and houses suppression, prevention, public education, administration and training staff all under one roof.

The building is the city's first post-disaster construction, is fully wheelchair accessible, and includes a storefront.

"We're finding people are really enjoying that they can come in the front door," MacDonald said. "There's a waiting area, there are meeting rooms, there are offices and everything is fully accessible with a full-size elevator."

Another addition is a hose tower that doubles as a five-storey training tower for high-angle rescues and high-rise ladder scenarios. The tower can also duplicate the Scott FireFit challenge. Belleville has an active FireFit team that has placed internationally in firefighter combat challenges.

The station is centrally located in the city, which has significantly decreased response times, MacDonald said. Most notably, crews are now closer to the 600-acre industrial park.

"Belleville is very active with economic development for industry," MacDonald said. "Quite often industry looks at emergency response capabilities for their insurance companies and they look to what services cities can offer . . . we were able to improve our response time and that's a big bonus for encouraging businesses to come to town."

The two-year project cost about $7.5 million, and stayed within budget, MacDonald said. The department is also building two more stations and both are expected to open within the year.
Written by Maria Church
Feb. 18, 2016 - Canada's Office of the Secretary to the Governor General is reminding fire chiefs to nominate members of their departments who have served 20 years or more for the Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal.

According to the Governor General's office, more than 31,000 medals have been awarded since its creation in 1985. The medals are given to full-time and volunteer firefighters, as well as wildfire firefighters, who have served 20 years or more, to recognize their outstanding service to their communities and to the country.

"An important component of the Canadian Honours System, the Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal is a tangible and lasting way to honour you, the men and women of our fire services, who dedicate yourselves to preserving Canada's public safety, thus improving the quality of your fellow citizens' lives and sense of security," the office states. "Not only is the medal intended to recognize your dedicated service, but it also pays tribute to your good conduct, industry and efficiency."

For more information on the program, and to access the new electronic nomination form, visit
Written by The Chronicle Herald
Feb. 8, 2016, Chester, N.S. - Chester's Fire Chief Dave Richardson says he fears for the future of his department if a fire services contract between the District of Chester and the Village of Chester isn't renewed by March 31. Chief Richardson says the Chester Volunteer Fire Department could be significantly reduced with higher costs to residents if the municipality has to use other departments to respond to fires outside the village. The Chronicle Herald reports. | READ MORE
Written by Maria Church
Fire Chief Laurie Saunders, a 37-year veteran and 10-year chief of the Berwick & District Volunteer Fire Department in Nova Scotia, has a few ideas as to why recruitment numbers are relativity high for his department.

"It's always been part of the backbone of the community," Saunders said. "There is a lot of pride within the members prior and the present members.

"Most people, they talk to the other firefighters so they have a pretty good idea before they even apply," he said.

The Berwick department turned 100 this year, on Jan. 20 to be exact, and its 50 or so members proudly celebrated the anniversary by swapping stories.

The department can trace its roots to 1915 when a group of concerned citizens met and pledged to spend no more than $100 toward fire equipment.

"It started off with just buckets and ladders," Saunders said.

In 1924 the department purchased its first motorized truck. That truck was restored several years ago and is now displayed at the hall.

Today, Berwick Fire serves about 7,000 people in about 160 kilometres squared, and averages 120 calls per year. The fire station, which was rebuilt in 2008, is a part of the Berwick town hall and houses two pumpers, two tankers, a heavy rescue, a light rescue and a personnel carrier.

The department's membership includes four women and, this year, two under-19 participants of a long-running junior program.

Nova Scotia Fire Marshal Harold Pothier and local chiefs attended the 100th anniversary banquet in January to help celebrate the thriving department.

"We're definitely proud of it," Saunders said. "Our veterans are just as active as our young people and we have two or three functions a year and they all sit down and swap stories. Everyone has a story."
Written by Maria Church
An Ontario city is testing an early-warning system that allows in-transit emergency vehicles to broadcast a warning to nearby cell phones.

Emergency services in Belleville launched a pilot program in late August using the BRAKERS Early Warning System, invented by local entrepreneur Tim Newman.

The system software works through cell phones using a downloaded app. Approaching emergency vehicles select a message that broadcasts to app users within a few hundred metres.

"It's an audible, verbal message, with the segment of a siren to begin with," Newman explained. "They can choose whatever message is appropriate to the situation."

Belleville Fire & Emergency Services and local police are participating in the pilot.

Fire Chief Mark MacDonald confirmed seven of the department's vehicles have the app – four front-line trucks and three squad vehicles. Volunteer firefighters were also encouraged to download the app for use during emergency calls.

"The nav systems in vehicles are all blue-toothed and programed for this kind of information input," MacDonald said, "so it seems like a very logical step to say, 'How about letting people know that emergency responders are coming.'"

The BRAKERS system is user-friendly for vehicle operators, MacDonald said, who are used to adjusting emergency lighting and task lighting when they get to a scene.

A programmable message – such as, "Volunteer firefighter approaching, please permit them to pass" – broadcasts on a loop with the press of a button.

The challenge, Newman said, is in convincing people to download the free app, and soliciting feedback. By mid-October, the combined downloads were approaching 1,000.

"I have several different marking things in mind to get people more involved," Newman said.

MacDonald, too, said it's hard to gauge success of the system without hearing first-hand accounts from app users.

In his view, the warning system holds the most potential for volunteer firefighters who often get tied in traffic when responding in their personal vehicles.

"The green lights have been in place for 25 years and people are still asking, "What are those green lights?'" MacDonald said. "We're hoping with this app it might bring an awareness level to people and make them think of it."

The pilot in Belleville runs until Jan. 1.

Find more information about BRAKERS at
Written by The Movember Foundation
Movember is almost upon us, the month formerly known as November, which is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men's faces around the world, all in the name of men's health. During Movember Canadians band together in teams within their industry to create a network challenge at These networks create a fun and competitive environment that showcases the collective achievement of the industry while raising awareness and funds for men's health, particularly prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity. To date, $175 million has been raised in Canada.

Oct. 13, 2015, Toronto - In 2014, the Toronto Fire Services was a part of Movember's Great Canadian Fire Challenge Network with 86 members. Led by acting captain of Toronto Fire Services and Mo Bro Gordon Chabot, the team raised $13,882, and had fun doin' good with fundraising activities that included direct donations, an annual challenge between Toronto Fire and Toronto Police, T-shirt sales and a shave-off party.

"Movember is effective, fun and impactful. It also supports causes that affect many firefighters," said Gordon Chabot, team captain of Toronto Fire Prevention. "Emergency responders have a stressful job, which affect both our physical and mental health. Growing moustaches together helps strengthen our bonds and gives us the opportunity to work together to make sure all men take better care of themselves."

Regina Professional Firefighters were also a part of Movember's Great Canadian Fire Challenge with 75 team members.

"For firefighters, getting involved in Movember is really a no-brainer. The hazards we are exposed to throughout our careers put us at a higher risk for getting prostate cancer (and other cancers) than the general public," said Mark Moroz, team captain for Regina Professional Firefighters. "We also experience a high level of stress over our careers and some of the emergencies we attend stay with us forever. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a real issue facing our nation's first responders, so it just makes sense for us to be a part of such an amazing charity tackling these tough issues. And finally, like fire fighting, Movember mixes serious business with a sense of humour, so we rock our cancer-fighting/mental-health awareness lip caterpillars with a smile and style!"

This year, the Movember Foundation is adding another way to champion men's health with the addition of MOVE – a 30-day fitness challenge to promote physical activity. For Mo Sistas, MOVE is a way to do something tangible in the name of men's health, and for Mo Bros it's a new challenge. Grow your Mo, MOVE, or take things to the next level and do both.

"It's exciting that there is going to officially be a new way to participate in Movember this year," Chabot said. "Personally, I'll commit to running with my dog, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and take my kids swimming every weekend. As a team, we plan to organize some MOVE events and a tug-of-war vs. Toronto Police and an axe-throwing competition."

"Physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle are imperative for firefighters," said Moroz. "I'd love to incorporate a move-for-MO session for our members that would encourage everyone to get active for at least 30 minutes while on shift and at home."

Chabot and Moroz chose to captain their teams because they felt it was important to encourage an enjoyable way to promote men's health within the fire department.

Movember provides a chance to bring health, humour and camaraderie into the workplace and to the community. The moustache is a great conversation starter and a great way to bring firefighters together.

From Movember 1, Mo Bros start clean-shaven and groom their way to a fine moustache. Mo Bros and Mo Sistas can also commit to MOVE with the 30-day fitness challenge.

"The main thing is to have fun and do good," Chabot said.

  1. Once registered at each Mo Bro must begin Movember 1 with a clean-shaven face.
  2. Mo Bro's and Mo Sistas can also commit to the MOVE challenge and MOVE everyday of Movember.
  3. For the entire month of Movember each Mo Bro must grow and groom a moustache.
  4. Don't fake it. No beards, no goatees, no fake moustaches.
  5. Use the power of the moustache to create conversations about men's health and to raise funds for prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health.

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