Fire Fighting in Canada

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Post-vacation update . . .

Monday, Aug. 30, 2010

I’m getting grief for not keeping up the blog since returning from vacation but I know you all know what it’s like – e-mails, deadlines, budgets . . . Anyway, here goes, beginning on a sad note.

August 30, 2010 
By Laura King

The horrible
series of events on Hwy 401 last week that led to the death of the wife of a
firefighter from Napanee, Ont., is frightening, heartbreaking and disturbing. There
hasn’t been much news about the two separate bus crashes since the middle of
last week but here is a nicely written story from the Kingston Whig-Standard
about the community support for the firefighters and their families.

Napanee firefighters were on their way home from the western
Ontario regional Scott FireFit competition
Windsor, Ont., a wonderful event through
which competitors bond and excel.

FireFit finals are this weekend in Brampton, Ont., with some of the usual
suspects ranked in the top 20 including Graham MacKenzie (No. 1, Kamloops), Dwayne
Drover (No. 10, Waterloo), Jamie Richford (No. 11, Moncton), Joe Triff (No. 14,
Halifax) and Sean Henderson (No. 16, Oakville).

Moncton, Kamloops, Halifax and Delta are on top in the team
events and Danielle Comolli (
Toronto) and Jacqueline Rasenberg (North York) top the women’s standings.

You see
all the standings at the Firefit link above. If you live near
Brampton go out this weekend and cheer on
these incredible athletes! (And if you do, please send me pictures so we can
post them on our website!)

The Canadian
Association of  Fire Chiefs presents fire
chief of the year awards annually to a career chief and a volunteer chief. Generally
the names of the recipients remain hush hush until the end of the CAFC’s annual
conference in September – this year Sept. 19-22 in
Saint John, N.B. – and everyone’s pretty
good about keeping things under wraps.

except the entire
province of P.E.I., it seems. A press release from P.E.I.
MP Doug Currie came across the wires last week congratulating Chief Miles
Boulter, who
began as a volunteer firefighter with the O’Leary Fire
Department in 1972 and is the now the well-respected (volunteer) chief instructor
with the Prince Edward Island Firefighters Association.

Then, on Saturday, the Charlottetown Guardian published a
lovely story about Boulter, which you can read here.

We respected the CAFC’s wishes after the MP’s press
release crossed the wires, figuring not many people would see it, but the
Guardian story is mainstream, there are lots of nice comments underneath it
about Boulter and well, we didn’t want to seem out of the loop, so we posted it

Congrats, Chief Boulter! Now, if anyone knows who the career
chief of the year is, please, shhhhh!

Is is just me, or are these “sick day” stories confusing. Today’s story
says firefighters in Calgary are
taking almost double the number of sick days as they were five
years ago. But really they’re not, apparently, rather it’s all because of a new reporting system.

In London, Ont., absenteeism also appears to
be an issue. According to a London Free Press story, firefighters there have
booked twice as much sick time so far this year as workers in several other
city departments. But as J
im Holmes, head of the London Professional Fire
Fighters Association, notes,
firefighters work 24-hour shifts so one sick day for them looks worse than it

Honestly, I’m not good with numbers – most journalists
aren’t and maybe that explains why neither of these stories makes any sense! – but this all seems like creative accounting to me.


speaking of journalists, Fire Fighting in Canada is published by Annex
Publishing & Printing
, which publishes several trade magazines about
everything from pizza to massage therapy to gardening, poultry, manure (no
kidding – click here) and several forestry magazines, including Canadian
. So, when a story landed on my BlackBerry last night about nine fire
departments in
Nova Scotia being
called to battle a huge fire of burning wood pellets, I naturally forwarded it
to our forestry editors. Who e-mailed first thing this morning with this
not-so-subtle message:

know if you've posted this on fire websites, but I'm pretty  sure it's actually a wood pallet fire (not

OK, I found
it funny.


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