Fire Fighting in Canada

The OAFC continues to advocate

July 20, 2023 
By Rob Grimwood

At the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) AGM in November, a 12 person board of directors was elected to enact the vision of the members and achieve the goals of the organization’s strategic plan.

The board of directors is comprised of myself (Rob Grimwood), as president, vice president Jeremy Parkin, treasurer Jeremy Inglis, secretary Chad Brown and directors Mark Berney, Mark MacDonald, Andrea DeJong, Brian Arnold, Jason Whiteley, Brent Thomas, Kent Readman and Paul Boissonneault. 

So far, 2023 has been a busy and incredible year for the OAFC, starting with a highly successful labour relations seminar from Jan. 24-26 in Toronto. 

Then, from March 23-25, hundreds of firefighters and chief fire officers from Northeastern Ontario attended the Northeastern Fire Educational Conference and Trade Show at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ont.


The OAFC Conference and Trade Show took place in Mississauga, Ont., from May 3-6, and featured pre-conference workshops, keynote speakers Corey Hirsch and Adam Timm, many other speakers and panel discussions, and the largest fire service trade show in Canada. We were honoured to have Premier Doug Ford join us, address our members and tour our trade show. He was presented with a white helmet to reflect his government’s ongoing support.

The OAFC board of directors established four key government relations priorities for 2023, which include supporting fire service training and achieving certification, supporting mental health and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) prevention, ensuring the effective implementation of Next Generation 911 and support for dispatch technology and operations, and reducing fire deaths through engineering, education and enforcement. 

These government relations priorities were front and centre when the OAFC hosted its Queens Park Fire & Life Safety Advocacy Day on May 30. The day saw OAFC directors and members meet with over 40 ministers and Ford to discuss fire and life safety initiatives and OAFC priorities. 

Other initiatives that the OAFC continues to advocate for include support for fire departments to achieve mandatory certification; ensuring the Fire Marshal’s Office has proper resources to modernize training; ensuring that simultaneous notification of tiered response calls is enacted in all dispatch centres that do not currently have it; establishing a provincial public safety broadband network; modernization of the Ontario Fire Code, and ensuring that fire safety is considered in all decisions made to address the provincial housing strategy. 

The OAFC is working to establish public safety grants to support fire department training, infrastructure, health and safety and fire prevention programs; improve cancer prevention efforts; modernizing the “slow down move over” legislation to establish more specific speed parameters to make the law more enforceable while also committing to more robust public education to change driver behaviour; developing a framework for investigating firefighter line of duty deaths to develop recommendations for prevention and promoting the role residential sprinklers play in fire safety. 

The OAFC seeks modernizing the billing for fire department responses on provincial highways to include no service calls, enabling municipalities to use administrative monetary penalties as an option for enforcing violations of the Ontario Fire Code; and developing a strategy to address the risks associated with abandoned gas wells. 

Tragically, in 2022 there were 133 fire-related deaths in Ontario, the most in decades. As a result, the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office convened a two-day fire safety summit in June called Operation SAFER (Smoke Alarms For Every Residence, The OAFC is a proud partner, and donated $15,000 to the event as well as $5,000 in bursaries for OAFC members who wished to attend but did not have the financial means to offset travel and accommodation expenses.

Other OAFC projects and initiatives include the creation of a new chief officer orientation program, a new website, online learning series, and working with partner departments to modernize the OFAI Candidate Testing Services.

Additionally, our various committees continue to work hard on projects including creating a Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity toolkit for fire departments, participating on a volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention work group that is co-ordinated by the Office of the Fire Marshal, reimagining our retiree program and creating a chief officer peer support program.

The OAFC looks forward to FireCon in Thunder Bay, Ont., from Sept. 6-10 (registration is now open), our health and safety workshop in Niagara Falls, Ont., on Nov. 21 and our AGM in that same city from Nov. 22-24.

I want to thank all OAFC directors, provincial advisory committee leaders, committee members and all of Ontario’s chief fire officers for all of their dedication, hard work and support to ensuring fire and life safety.

Rob Grimwood is the deputy fire chief for Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services. He is also the 2023 president for the OAFC board of directors.

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