Fire Fighting in Canada

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Ontario looks to regulate safety courses

March 12, 2015, Toronto - The Ontario government says it will look into regulating companies that provide safety courses to firefighters and other first responders following the death of a firefighting student during a training exercise last month.

March 12, 2015
By The Canadian Press

The companies, which offer non-mandatory specialized courses such as ice or rope rescue, aren’t currently under government oversight, nor are they required to follow best practices established for firefighters.

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities says it is now reviewing the Private Career Colleges Act, which regulates vocational training, and plans to propose amendments this fall to include private safety courses.

The industry has been under scrutiny since the Feb. 8 incident that claimed Adam Brunt’s life.

Some, including an Ontario fire chief and a New Democrat MPP, have called for government regulation to help ensure those taking such courses aren’t putting themselves unnecessarily at risk.

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Police said Brunt, 30, was trapped under the ice during a rescue exercise in Hanover, Ont.

His father has said Brunt took the course in the hopes it would help him find a job once he completed his firefighting program.

The Ministry of Labour is investigating.

“I was very saddened by this incident and our thoughts continue to be with Adam Brunt’s family and friends during this difficult time,” Reza Moridi, the minister of training, said in a statement.

“After incidents like this, it is important to take a hard look at any potential improvements that could help prevent future accidents in programs that are currently exempt from regulatory oversight under the Private Career Colleges Act, like single-skill firefighting courses.”

The course Brunt took was run by Herschel Rescue Training Systems, a Toronto-area company whose owner and master instructor was acquitted after being charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the training death of a volunteer firefighter near Sarnia, Ont., in 2010.

Court documents show a judge ruled Terry Harrison had not officially been designated as incident commander for the exercise, and thus could not be held responsible for the firefighters’ safety.

Harrison has said he was invited to take part in the 2010 exercise but was not hired to lead it.

He has also called for coroners’ inquests in both fatal incidents and said there should a review of current rules to make sure rescue workers get the education they need.

Families of two men killed in training exercises to speak out

Relatives of two Ontario men who died in separate firefighter training exercises offered by a private company are expected to call for government oversight of the industry in a news conference this morning.

Gary Kendall, a volunteer firefighter, died in an ice rescue exercise near Sarnia in 2010 while a similar incident claimed the life of firefighting student Adam Brunt last month.

Their families are expected to join a New Democrat MPP in pushing for the province to regulate private sector companies that provide specialized safety courses to firefighters and other first responders.

The courses aren’t mandatory, and the companies aren’t required to follow best practices established for firefighters.

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities said Wednesday it would look into regulating the private safety training industry in the wake of the fatal incidents.

The ministry says it will review the Private Career Colleges Act, which regulates vocational training, and will come up with a list of recommendations by the fall.