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Top 10 messages delivered to The Hill

If you’ve been following my column, you may know we like top 10 lists. This list is about the 10 messages the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) said during 18 hours that representatives spent on Parliament Hill for government relations week Nov. 26 and 27, 2018.

February 1, 2019 
By Tina Saryeddine

During the event, the CAFC met with the prime minister, minister of defence, minister of public safety, minister of the environment, the offices of the minister of transport, status of women, innovation, science and economic development, MPs of all stripes, the office of the leader of the Opposition, and staff in various departments.  

While the meetings spoke to the importance of the relationship between the fire sector and the nation’s capital when it comes to policy and practice, and focused on five “asks,” the following messages were delivered:

1. We’re pragmatic not partisan: While CAFC is active on the Hill, we appreciate, applaud and support all individuals and parties working to make a difference to our sector.

2. HUSAR teams need clarity on national deployment: The HUSAR teams in Calgary, Manitoba, Toronto and Vancouver are made up of individuals and organizations willing to deploy when needed. However, the business models and indemnification requirements for such mobility are not clear. We asked for more clarity on this issue.

3. Volunteer departments are nation-builders: Without volunteer departments, a large portion of smaller and rural communities in our country would go unserved, creating a vulnerability nationally. Special policy considerations nationally and federally are needed.

4. A tragic number of funerals for LODD to suicide: Before heading to the Hill, 16 chiefs shared that between them they had attended funerals for 14 line-of-duty deaths due to suicide in a 12-month period. The request was to find solutions that may make an immediate impact on the front line.

5. Better together – CAFC and IAFF: The CAFC was pleased to continue echoing calls for continued federal HAZMAT training, ensuring that the firefighter safety objective is integrated into the code, and calling for the prohibition of flame retardants in upholstered furniture.

6. Support for the Indigenous Fire Marshals’ office: In addition to supporting the IAFF’s calls, a key partner in the CAFC’s government relations week was the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada, an important member of CAFC’s national advisory council. Together, all members supported and applauded developments on the Indigenous Fire Marshal’s Office (IFMO). The IFMO provided an excellent update on its progress and framework.

7. Joint emergency preparedness program: In 2012, the federal government retired a joint emergency preparedness program that provided grant funding to municipalities for emergency preparedness needs. The CAFC has asked the federal government to reinstate a modified version of the program.

8. Keeping up with innovation: While Canada is succeeding in many world-first innovations, from being the first in encapsulated mass timber construction to the second in the legalization of cannabis, we need to ensure our departments and firefighters have the knowledge, training and capacity to respond.  

9. A national fire advisor: While the extent of federal activity and the number of departments reaching out to the CAFC on key issues is unprecedented in recent history, the CAFC’s request is to ensure that these activities are co-ordinated through a national fire advisor secretariat that can bring together the best data and expertise to each initiative.

10. Keep up the good work: Finally, the CAFC applauded all parties for the breadth of federal activity that is serving our sector, from the inception of the Memorial Grant Program to the work on building out the public safety broadband network and the action plan developed in response to the tragedy at Lac-Mégantic.

Will this make a difference? Important battles are won with persistence.

How can you help?

We need the finest and most informed thought from across the country. You know what your community needs. Join the CAFC and help to advance your community’s issues. Your country needs you and the CAFC does too.

Tina Saryeddine, PhD, MHA, CHE, is the executive director of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs. For more information, contact, call 1-800-775-5189, or visit

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