Fire Fighting in Canada

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Where are we heading?

from the editor

December 13, 2007
By James Haley

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Firefighters still top a public poll of most-trusted professions with 96 per cent, in a poll conducted by Leger Marketing released last month. Nurses are next. We need to capitalize on this. But news of alleged sexual harassment in Richmond, B.C., leads me to think that we’ll eventually waste our good will with the public through the unacceptable and archaic attitudes of some male members of our community.

All four female firefighters in the Richmond Fire Department have taken leave over allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace. It’s a situation Fire Chief Jim Hancock admits has placed the department in “a bit of a crisis,” the media reported last month.

I have met and worked with many firefighters who also happen to be female, many of whom have far superior firefighting skills and experience than I do. I’m not ashamed to say that. And neither should any other firefighter. It is no longer acceptable that the fire service is an all-male club. If anyone can meet the requirements necessary and have the proper training, then they should be accepted. Personalities aside, we should all be able to work together in protecting our communities. You may not like everyone in your department – we are human after all – but you have to respect them as a person.

We offer our sincerest hope that the Richmond Fire Department can overcome its current difficulties and we are confident it can. Its citizens deserve no less.

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Calgary Firefighter Duff Gibson is an inspiration to a whole new generation of Canadians, after his gold-medal performance at the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, held in February. Look to page 11 for our interview with this dedicated athlete and firefighter.

While silver medallist Dominique Maltais of the Montreal fire service was unavailable at press time, we hope to feature her in an upcoming edition. In our interview, Duff said that of the entire Canadian Winter Olympic team, the fire service was the only profession to have two medallists. Quite a feat. We are all very proud.

Finally, the January death of Montreal Capt. Marcel Marleau in the line of duty was and is a sobering event for the fire service. The highly respected officer was killed in an apparent flashover during a call for an unusual smell at an apartment building. The death is still under investigation to determine the exact cause, but the memory of Capt. Marleau, who died working to preserve and protect his community, will never be forgotten. We dedicate this issue to him.

Yours in fire service safety and education,
James Haley
Editor
E-mail canfirefight@annexweb.com


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