Fire Fighting in Canada

Regional training officer a first in Ontario


Regional training officer a first in Ontario

A fire department in Ontario has hired a regional training officer to work with the area’s seven fire departments to provide standardized training and support.

July 25, 2011 
By Laura King

July 25, 2011, Centre Wellington, Ont. – The Centre Wellington Fire Department in Ontario has hired a regional training officer to work with the area’s seven fire departments.

Centre Wellington Fire Chief Brad Patton said Monday that Jonathan Karn, a 12-year veteran with seven years’ experience as a training officer, assumes his new position on July 27.

“It is my pleasure to announce that Jonathan Karn has been selected as our new Wellington County training officer by an impartial hiring committee,” Patton said in a statement.

Karn is a certified training officer and an associate instructor, Level 1. He has several diplomas and certificates in fire-and-rescue-related courses and a good understanding of the County of Wellingtons’ seven fire departments, Patton said.


Chief Patton said one of Karn’s first tasks will be to arrange meetings with the fire chiefs and training officers to better understand all of the training needs and determine how he can help the individual departments.

Wellington County, a mostly rural regional township in south central Ontario, northeast of Kitchener, has 13 stations and 344 volunteer firefighters. Like all training officers, those in all seven Wellington County departments are tasked with time-consuming and sometimes overwhelming paperwork ranging from lesson plans to accountability sheets for their weekly two-hour training sessions.

In an initiative that is expected to be a model for other Canadian departments, Wellington County's chiefs devised the plan for the regional training officer, who will create the lesson plans and site plans for the seven departments, ensure that safety standards are met, and deal with the paperwork. The volunteer training officers will still run the training sessions, but with a lot less stress and a lot more support.

“Everyone agreed that training was the top priority for the fire department but getting the training is the difficult part,” Patton said in an interview in June. “So we came up with the idea, well, can we share one? And we agreed that something could be worked out.”

The full-time training officer job was posted in June and is funded by the region.

“All seven councils unanimously approved it – there was very little hesitation,” Patton said. “This could easily be done by seven fire departments, or five, or three fire departments that are like-minded, understand the need, and what the goal is, to get together to fund a position. They don’t even have to be from the same county or region; they just have to be a group that says, this is what we’re going to do, and we’re going to split the cost. It’s far easier for a council to pay a third or a fifth of the cost of a training officer and get good-quality training material.”

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