Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Forest firefighters seek action from Ontario for better protection from wildfires

By Ontario Public Service Employees Union   

Headlines News firefighters wildfires

Feb. 26, 2024, Toronto – Forest firefighters in Ontario are demanding action from the Ford government to ensure they are better protected before the start of the 2024 fire season.

Veteran forest firefighter Noah Freedman and Ontario Public Service Employees Union President JP Hornick attended Queen’s Park on Monday to call out the Ford government for their “complete disregard for forest firefighters’ health and safety”, a press release states.

Last year’s wildfire season was record-breaking. Even those who weren’t close to an active fire felt the impacts. Forest firefighters spend 16-hour days, week after week, inhaling carcinogenic emissions to keep Ontario residents and communities safe.

“The Ontario government treats forest firefighters’ health as it does climate change, with a willful ignorance for scientific evidence,” said Freedman. “The Health and Safety document we filed with the government, and their response, is proof that they have been willfully ignorant and negligent for years, expecting that no one was paying attention. Some of us are still here, we are all dying, and we will no longer be silenced.”


The Ford government has not publicly responded to these statements.

Forest firefighters don’t receive proper health and safety training on the toxic conditions they are exposed to on the frontlines, the press release states, despite repeated recommendations to the government, including from the Ministry of Natural Resources’ joint health and safety committee. Firefighters are also still advised to cover their mouths with dry cloths like bandanas – a method that was proven to be ineffective in the 1990s.

Print this page


Stories continue below