Fire Fighting in Canada

Features Blogs Editor's Blog
Yawn . . .

Jan. 24, 2011 

It was a great few days at the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs labour relations seminar last week – great presentations, which, of course, lead to great stories for Fire Fighting in Canada and Canadian Firefighter and EMS Quarterly, so stay tuned!


January 24, 2011 
By Laura King

It’s always interesting at seminars and conferences to find out who’s reading what in our magazines. Our December cover story on the highrise fire in Toronto in September, written by TFS Chief Bill Stewart, drew rave reviews from the chiefs at last week’s seminar, as did a series on leadership by chiefs Lyle Quan, of Waterloo, Ont., and Les Karpluk, of Prince Albert, Sask. Ed Brouwer’s December Trainer’s Corner column on hoarding and how to recognize it was also a big hit. Some departments have copied these stories and columns and distributed them to their members. Cool! 


The most interesting presentation at last week’s seminar was about sleep – and no, it wasn’t difficult to stay awake during the 90-minute PowerPoint, even though it was immediately after lunch, when people tend to nod off at these types of things. Here’s some of what I learned from Steven Lockley, PhD and assistant professor of medicine, division of sleep medicine, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (a teaching affiliate of Harvard):

  • Sleeping fewer than six hours a night leads to high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • After being awake for 16 hours, our bodies go into nighttime mode and start to shut down; caffeine helps.
  • If shift work is a necessity, it makes more sense to work longer days and shorter nights, (for example, 14-10 instead of 10-14).
  • If you’re going to work seven, 24-hour shifts a month, space them out as much as possible so your body recovers adequately between shifts. Do not work 24 hours on, one (or two) day(s) off, 24 hours on.
  • Naps are crucial. Anyone who works a 24-hour shift – medical residents, firefighters – should nap at least once, if not two or three times, to prevent fatigue and exhaustion (and, ultimately, risk of accident an injury).
  • After being awake for 19 hours, impairment is equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.05 per cent. After being awake for 24 hours, impairment is equivalent to 0.10 per cent – more than the legal limit of alcohol.

Lockey is just starting to do research into sleep patterns of firefighters. Meantime, you can learn some cool stuff about sleep – and sleeping better – at  



Canada’s first national standard for front-line fire, paramedic and police personnel who respond to CBRN emergencies will be unveiled tomorrow in Toronto. 

The CSA Standards and the Canadian General Standards Board are hosting a simulated CBRN incident inside a Toronto subway car at a defunct subway station.  

We’ll have details and photos tomorrow. 


I’m late to the party on this one but if you haven’t already heard the mayday call from the two Toronto Fire Services members who fell through the roof of the HMV store on Yonge Street in Toronto, into the adjacent burning heritage building, it’s worth a listen:  

Print this page


Stories continue below