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Ontario fire marshal to leave office

June 1, 2015, Toronto – Ontario Fire Marshal Ted Wieclawek is leaving the OFM June 19.

Deputy Fire Marshal Jim Jessop will become interim fire marshal.

A memo to staff from Matt Torigian, the deputy minister of community safety, confirmed the departure Monday afternoon. Wieclawek has been fire marshal since 2011.

Rumours started swirling in early May at the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs conference that there would be changes at the top level of the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM). There had been talk for weeks that the Ministry of Community Safety was taking a hard look at the OFMEM and was poised to make changes.

Torigian confirmed the departure in a memo to staff. Word leaked out Monday morning that the announcement was imminent.

"Ted Wieclawek has informed me of his decision to leave the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management effective June 19, 2015," the memo said.

"His decision to leave the office, while difficult, is necessary to broaden his professional development and experience and at the same time enable him to spend more time with his family."

Wieclawek's portfolio expanded in August 2013 when the province combined the OFM and Emergency Management Ontario; he has been with the OFM since 1992.

Key personnel had left the OFM in the last couple of years – deputy fire marshal Trevor Bain moved to Sudbury to become executive deputy chief of fire and paramedic services, and Shayne Mintz moved to the NFPA.

Wieclawek spoke at the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs conference last month, outlining to some 600 delegates – chief officers, communicators, training officers and public educators – the OFM's initiatives including a review of the provincial IMS system recommended by Elliot Lake inquiry Commissioner Paul Belanger.

Although Wieclawek has been in the Ontario public service for more than 23 years, he was a school teacher before joining the OFM; his lack of fire-service experience was a bone of contention among chief officers in the province.

The memo about Wieclawek's departure was followed by a separate announcement indicating that Jessop would step into the position. Jessop has been with the OFMEM since January 2014. He was deputy chief in London and Niagara Falls and had been instrumental in the push for mandatory sprinklers in seniors homes.

June 1, 2015  By Laura King

Ontario Fire Marshal Ted Wieclawek speaks to delegates to the Northwest Response Forum in Dryden

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