By Laura King
Oct. 3, 2011 - By all accounts, Meaford Fire Chief Mike Molloy was pleased with the support from Ontario firefighters and chief officers during last week’s hearing in provincial offences court in Owen Sound.
A call for support from the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs went out on Sept. 21, shortly before the hearings began on Monday, Sept. 26; chiefs were asked to attend the hearing in Owen Sound in support of the Meaford Fire Department.
So far, the Crown has withdrawn three of six OH&S charges laid after a restaurant fire in 2009 during which two firefighters required rescue.
According to fire officials who were in court last week to observe the proceedings, the Crown was far from proving its case and the defence lawyer presented solid evidence about the use of both IMS and RIT at the scene.
The hearing has been postponed until December. You can read more about last week’s proceedings here.
Congratulations to the host committee for the CAFC’s 2011 Fire Rescue Canada conference last week in Calgary. While the committee put on a great show – country superstar Paul Brandt, former Argos coach and motivational guru Pinball Clemons, and Olympian Catriona Le May Doan, along with solid fire-service presentations – the closed-door happenings were equally as significant.
By all accounts, the pre-conference board meeting was the most productive in years with several longstanding issues openly discussed and, for the most part, resolved (although not yet public while the Ts are crossed and what not).
More significant, perhaps, was the consensus that the CAFC explore working with the Canadian Governmental Committee (CGC) and FEMA/FEMSA to advocate for federal funding for the fire service.
The CAFC, with the help of Summa Strategies Canada Inc. and consultant Robin MacLachlan, has learned how to work Ottawa. And the CGC has partnered with FEMA/FEMSA for guidance following the U.S. organization’s success convincing Washington of the need for fedeal fire-service grants.
The combined clout of the CAFC and the CGC/FEMA/FEMSA, plus the presumed pending election of John deHooge as second vice-present of the IAFC, might just be the perfect storm the Canadian fire service needs to make something happen on Parliament Hill.
In addition to CAFC business last week, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Calgary Fire, firstly at Station 12 with our Extrication Tips writer Randy Schmitz and his crew, then at the Wellness/Fitness Centre with Well-Being columnist Ian Crosby.
Lots of Canadian firefighters are great at what they do but even better at other things – Olympic gold medalist curler John Morris (a firefighter with Rocky View Fire Service in Alberta) and National Lacrosse League champion Dan Dawson (a firefighter with Brampton Fire & Emergency Services in Ontario) come to mind.
Even so, the crew at Station 12 is a bit unusual.
Firefighter Ahmed Marshall was a star wide receiver with St. Mary’s University and the University of Calgary, where he was also a sprinter. Then, he was recruited by 1998 Olympic gold medalist bobsledder Dave MacEachern as a member of the national bobsledding team. With Pierre Leuders, Marshall was seventh at a World Cup in Germany and helped Leuders to third overall in World Cup combined standings. Marshall came close to an Olympic dream in 2002. You can read more here.
Then there’s Capt. Dennis Halstead, or Denny the Rodeo Clown. Monday night in Calgary, CAFC delegates were treated to some homegrown entertainment at the Girletz Rodeo Ranch, where they got an appreciation for the fine art of distracting angry bulls. Unfortunately, Halstead was not tapped for this event, but having witnessed the dangers of angry-bull distraction first-hand, it was interesting to watch Capt. Halstead in fire-service mode then imagine him in rodeo mode.
Halstead is two-time Canadian entertainer of the year and is ranked among the top five rodeo clowns in the world. Cool.
The tour of Calgary’s Wellness Centre with Ian Crosby was eye opening and refreshing. State-of-the-art wellness and fitness monitoring equipment, family doctors for firefighters and their families and, if Crosby has his way, physiotherapists, all under one roof, all easily accessible and all with one goal: to keep firefighters and their families fit and healthy. You can read our story on the IAFF wellness/fitness initiative here. Meantime, it would be interesting to see how many firefighters and officers could pass the timed, candidate physical-aptitude test wearing a vest lined with 50 pounds of lead.
Lastly for a Monday, as I mentioned the other day, the CAFC and the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Public Safety Council are working together on some hard-hitting fire-prevention messages. Here’s one example – it’s a few years old so you may have seen it already – that still cracks us up!
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