Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Editor’s blog – part 1

Laura King   

Features Blogs Editor’s blog

April 15, 2015, Dryden, Ont. – I swear I didn’t know until I was driving here Monday for the Northwest Response Forum that Dryden is in the Central time zone. I’m fairly well-traveled and well-read (and those who know me will tell you that I like to think I know a fair about, well, everything!) so I’m still shaking my head about having missed that crucial detail of Canadiana.

I did, however, know that Dryden is the home of NHL defenceman Chris Pronger – as a sign at the entrance to town proclaims – and that Air Ontario flight 1363 crashed in Dryden in 1989, an emergency that killed 21 of 65 passengers and three of four crew members.

This week, Dryden and Fire Chief Ken Kurz – along with the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Red Cross – host the fourth emergency management conference; first up Tuesday afternoon was Ontario Fire Marshal Ted Wieclawek, in his fairly new capacity as head of emergency management.

Wieclawek crammed a lot of information into the hour-long presentation, and there’s no question that the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management has its hands full as it integrates the two offices – fire and emergency management – and determines how response agencies and organizations can better collaborate.

Collaboration is, obviously, critical to emergency management. Which is why I was hoping for more details from the fire marshal about the status of the province’s review of the incident management system and urban search and rescue teams. Wieclawek said the province is bringing together all kinds of organizations to “re-validate” IMS – “to look at it and see if it’s serving our needs” – Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Transportation, the Salvation Army, paramedic chiefs, police, and armed forces, and fire.

One goal of the review is to have experienced commanders available to help manage incidents such as ice storms, tornados and structural collapses, Wieclawek said. “So the next time we have a prolonged event in a municipality we’ll have the incident-support teams that can be available to them to help manage that incident.”

Who specifically is involved in the IMS review? Which agency is responsible for rescue in Ontario? Will there be clarification on the role of the Ministry of Labour during a rescue, as recommended in the Elliot Lake inquiry report? Is there a plan for search and rescue teams, or funding?

Maybe this forum in Dryden wasn’t the right place to go into this kind of detail given the diverse emergency management audience.

The agencies mentioned in the Elliot Lake inquiry report recommendations have until Oct. 15 to respond; clearly there’s work going on but lots to do before that deadline. It has been almost three years since the Algo Centre mall collapsed, 18 months since the inquiry finished and six months since the recommendations were released.

I guess we’ll have to wait.

Read part 2 of Laura King's blog series from the Northwest Response Forum.

Follow her on Twitter @FireinCanada, for live coverage of the conference.

See a Storify collection of the tweets here.


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