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Toronto Fire Services receives diversity award

Aug. 18, 2011, Toronto - Toronto Fire Services (TFS) has been awarded the 2011 International Tony Pini Award for diversity and inclusion in the fire service.

August 18, 2011
By Toronto Fire Services

This award is jointly presented by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and Fire 2020, an international non-profit organization connecting fire and emergency-medical services with their multicultural communities to increase the reach and effectiveness of diversity recruitment and retention, emergency response and community risk-reduction programs.

TFS will receive the award at the IAFC’s Fire Rescue International Conference on Aug. 25, 2011, in Atlanta, Ga.

The award specifically honours Toronto Fire Services’ partnership with Centennial College to identify and address diversity barriers in the Ontario standardized pre-service firefighter education and training program. The pre-service fire program is jointly administered by the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) and the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) and is offered through a number of Ontario community colleges.

TFS partnered with Centennial College to co-author an enhanced version of the pre-service fire program curriculum and usher that new version through the necessary approval processes of the joint OFM/OAFC Endorsement Review Board, as well as the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and Ontario Credential Validation Service.

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The objective is to ensure that a greater number of visible minorities, women, and aboriginal persons are able to participate in and graduate from the program. These graduates will then increase the diversity of potential applicants to TFS, allowing TFS to participate in the national fire-service trend of requiring graduation/certification as a hiring pre-requisite, while at the same time meeting its obligation and desire to be reflective and representative of the communities we serve.

The first class under the partnership began in September 2010 with 34 students, consisting of 18 visible-minority males, three visible-minority females, six white females and one aboriginal person, for a total diversity participation rate of 77 per cent – well above the then-current rate across Toronto-area community colleges. Of those students, 21 were City of Toronto residents. These students will graduate this month.

This is the second noteworthy award to be received by TFS. In May 2011, TFS received the Toronto City Manager’s Award for Public Service Excellence for its inter-divisional project with Toronto Employment and Social Services and Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation to identify and address economic disadvantage as a potential barrier to the firefighter application process through an enhanced career-preparation course.

“We are very pleased to again be recognized and awarded for our efforts in fire-service diversity and inclusion,” said TFS Chief William Stewart. “It is especially exciting that this award will appropriately recognize our leadership at an international level,” Stewart continued. “This is a fitting tribute to the commitment and leadership of our people working together in teams to bring the finest in courage, compassion and service to the people of the City of Toronto.”