March 8, 2018, Toronto - New regulations proposed by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) under Ontario’s Fire Protection and Prevention Act could require firefighters to complete mandatory training and municipalities to conduct fire risk assessments.
If passed, all firefighters employed or appointed to a fire department would need to meet mandatory training and certification requirements set out by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
The requirements for suppression firefighters, pump operators, fire officers, and fire educators are set to come into force Jan. 1, 2019. Technical rescuers, for whom training and certification examination materials are still being developed, would have to meet requirements by Jan. 1, 2020
MCSCS is also proposing that existing firefighters currently employed in Ontario as fire inspectors, fire investigators, fire instructors, hazardous materials personnel, and dispatchers meet NFPA certification requirements. In order to give fire departments time to train and certify members, this regulation would be effective as of January 1, 2020.
As of Jan. 1, 2019, municipalities would also be required to complete mandatory risk assessments for community fire protection service delivery.
If passed, municipalities would need to conduct a standard risk assessment every five years, which would include data on demographics, geography, fire loss, fire event history and critical infrastructure.
Each municipality would then review the risk assessment annually and update if there any significant changes are present, to help the municipality make informed fire protection and prevention decisions.
The changes are based on recommendations made by the Fire Safety Technical Table, a consultation table that included members from MCSCS and the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management, the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC), the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, the Toronto Fire Fighters Association, the Fire Fighters Association of Ontario and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
“The OAFC supports the Fire Safety Technical Table’s mandate, recognizing the proposed regulations are an important stride forward in the professionalization of the Ontario fire service,” the OAFC said in a statement to Fire Fighting in Canada. “And, we applaud the provincial government for taking steps to modernize the Fire Protection and Prevention Act (FPPA).”
However, the OAFC also shared some proposed amendments, for consideration of the Minister, to help make the draft regulations more realistic in terms of timing. And, the OAFC believes all fire departments will require funding assistance from the province to achieve compliance, even if the proposed amendments are adopted.
“The OAFC believes that the Mandatory Training and Certification regulation should not come into force until at least July 1, 2019, preferably January 1, 2020, to allow municipal councils and their fire services to make all the necessary training funding decisions.”
MCSCS is encouraging the public to submit comments and recommendations on the proposed changes by March 11.
In addition, MCSCS is seeking public input on a third proposed change under the FPPA for public reporting on response time requirements.
This proposed regulation, introduced in mid-February, would require all fire departments to report to OFMEM on a number of standard response times. In turn OFMEM would provide fire departments with calculated response time data, unless departments choose to calculate their own.
If passed, it would be mandatory for each department to submit this data to municipal council.
“The OAFC supports the intention of the proposed Public Reporting regulation, and its focus on standardizing data reporting, improving transparency and accountability, and clarifying definitions,” the OAFC said in a statement. “However, we believe that an overhaul of Ontario’s Standard Incident Reporting (SIR) framework is required before any legislation on public reporting, such as this, be implemented.”
The deadline for the public to submit input on the proposed public reporting regulation is March 18.