OAFC rings in May with annual conference and trade show
May 15, 2023 By Laura Aiken
May 15, 2023, Mississauga, Ont. — The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) held its annual conference and trade show from May 4 to 6 at the International Centre. Over 300 people attended, and more than 160 booths spanned the 200,000 sq. ft. trade show floor.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford made a special appearance on May 5 to present his government’s efforts in support of the provincial fire service on multiple fronts, and spent time walking the trade show floor to meet with the exhibitors and attendees. The OAFC presented Premier Ford with a white helmet and challenge coin as the association and provincial government continue to strengthen their relationship.
Premier Ford’s message to the fire chiefs recapped the progress made in instituting mandatory certification for the safety of all firefighters in the province, expanded pancreatic and thyroid cancer coverage that is retroactive to 1960, support measures for local fire departments providing services on crown land, $208 million in funding for Next Gen 9-1-1, and the $9.6 million for the Runnymede First Responders Wellness Centre.
For the conference portion, hot topics included lithium-ion batteries, First Nations sacred/ceremonial fires, the provincial transition to MPDS and simultaneous notification systems for medical calls, supply chain and purchasing tips, and recruitment strategies.
Friday’s keynote, sponsored by the Canadian Automatic Sprinkler Association (CASA), was Adam Timm, consultant and founder of The Healthy Dispatcher. He was a 911 operator, dispatcher and trainer for the Los Angeles Police Department for 10 years. His talk focused on leadership and the cycle of dissatisfaction that can occur within membership. The next generation is looking for a feeling or “vibe” in their workplace, he said. Timm posed the question: What story does your agency tell?
He defined leadership as the capacity to translate vision into reality, and ended his presentation with these tips to be part of the changes you’d like to see: set expectations, invite commitment, measure progress, provide feedback, link to consequences and evaluate effectiveness.
On Saturday, former NHL goalie Corey Hirsch shared his journey with OCD, depression and anxiety. Hirsch is an Olympic silver medalist who was the goaltender for Canada in the 1994 Olympics, and recounted the moment Peter Forsberg evaded him in a shoot-out to give Sweden the gold. Hirsch’s struggles with mental health came at a time when there was a lot of stigma, particularly in the locker room of professional hockey. This keynote was sponsored by U.A. Local 853 Sprinkler Fitters Ontario.
The Awards Banquet, sponsored by A.J. Stone, recognized several outstanding chiefs. The Alf Stone Award went to Bracebridge Fire Chief Murray Medley. The OAFC-VFIS Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment and Retention Award was given to Jay Plato, fire chief for Niagara-on-the-Lake. The Bill Williams Humanitarian Award went to Deputy Chief Richard ‘Rick’ Caddick, Quinte West Fire Rescue. Jana Gillis also received a special President’s Award for her many years of service.
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