Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Getting the message out

Laura King   

Features Blogs Editor’s blog

Thursday, March 18, 2010

For years, the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs – with some help from outspoken Niagara Falls Assistant Fire Chief Jim Jessop – has been pushing for sprinklers in retirement homes. The deaths of two seniors in a fire in Orillia, Ont. (and two more later, in hospital), in January 2009 bolstered the cause but the Ontario government has failed to respond with legislation.

enlisted the help and talent of (also outspoken) Globe and Mail columnist
Christie Blatchford, who has written extensively about the lack of government
action on the fire service’s calls for mandatory sprinklers in seniors

At fire
chiefs conferences across the country, chiefs are often taught how to use the
media to their advantage – how to get reporters on side on issues and how to
work with them to get their stories out to the public. They’re starting to
catch on.

night on
CBC, OAFC president Richard Boyes talks to Marketplace host Erica Johnson in what looks to be a hard-hitting
piece that challenges the McGuinty government’s inaction (Johnson is barred
from entering the offices of Minister of Community Safety and Correctional
Services Rick Bartolucci). You can see a preview here.


Still with
sprinklers, here’s an interesting read from about the challenges of
getting Congress to adopt legislation that would create economic incentives for
commercial building owners to install sprinklers. A group of fire-service
organizations has been working on this for seven years.

Further to
Wednesday’s blog entry, there were 10 grass fires in the
Halifax area yesterday and four in the Cornwall region in Ontario. Newspapers across the country are
writing stories about the warm, dry weather and the potential for unseasonably
early grass fires. Our western correspondent, Paul Dixon, is at an aerial
firefighting show this week in
Vancouver collecting information the latest
technology and tidbits from speakers and exhibitors, some of which will be
featured in the June issue of Fire
Fighting in Canada

I talked to
Jeff Musser last night, one of the organizers of Firefighters Speak Up , a
two-day speaker series that this year features Fire Engineering editor Bobby Halton and
Ontario Fire College instructor Doug Outtrim. Fire Fighting in Canada is a lead
sponsor of the event, which is in its fifth year, and runs next weekend, March
27 and 28. There’s room left if you’re in
Ontario and would like to attend – contact
my good friend and Fire Fighting in
contributor Carlin Riley at  for the
Saturday event in Ilderton, Ont., or Jeff for the Sunday event in Clinton, Ont. Remarkably,
tickets are just $15!

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