Association News
Written by Grant Cameron
Richard Boyes, executive director of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC), will be retiring at the end of May.

The announcement was made following a board meeting of the association March 28.

OAFC president and Essa Township Fire Chief Cynthia Ross Tustin said in a letter that Boyes will be missed. She thanked him for all his contributions to the improvement of the OAFC.

“Richard has worked tirelessly over the past seven years, ensuring the OAFC has a solid government relations program, successfully implemented our candidate testing program through Ontario Fire Administration Inc., strengthened our member support services, leads a strong team of professionals that has grown and expanded our events, partnerships, programs and services, and has ensured our association is financially sound.

“The OAFC is in a strong position due to Richard's leadership and dedication to our members, partners and stakeholders.”

Boyes has more than 44 years of experience serving his community in both the volunteer and full-time fire service.

He is an experienced fire services executive, having filled many roles, including fire chief, consultant and Office of the Fire Marshal fire services advisor.

Boyes has been executive director of the association for more than six years. He was chief operating officer at the OAFC for six months prior to that.

Before working at the OAFC, he ran his own consulting business and was fire chief for the Town of Oakville for six years. Prior to that, he was fire chief at Sarnia Fire Rescue Services for nearly eight years. He was fire services advisor with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office for six years.

Between 2000 and 2011, he was on the board of directors of the OAFC and was president from 2007 to 2010.
Written by Grant Cameron
The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) has commended the federal budget tabled by the Liberals, saying in a press release that it has a number of crucial measures that will support strong communities.

The budget, released by Finance Minister Bill Morneau on March 19, is the final one before the federal election next October.

Click here view the federal budget.

CAFC President and Edmonton Fire Chief Ken Block said several investments stood out for the association.

“The investments in municipal infrastructure and housing hold opportunity for rectifying vulnerabilities that have resulted in recent tragedies,” he said in the press release. 

“The support for the Indigenous Fire Marshal’s office and the FireSmart program are needed and all hazards emergency response funding will be put to good use.”

The CAFC strongly commended an investment of $25 million over five years to create a pan-Canadian suicide-prevention service available 24/7 in all parts of the country. 

“First responders not only respond to suicide calls, they also fall victim to them,” said Block. “I’m pleased to see this taking shape and the CAFC will be pleased to assist where we can.”

The association also was pleased to see opportunities for training, diversity, and apprenticeship. 

The statement said that, in the coming weeks, the CAFC will be looking more closely at the budget and its implications and will remain available to all departments to assist in relevant files.

Following are the CAFC’s list of some of the highlights of the budget:
  • $25 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, with $5 million per year ongoing, to work with experienced and dedicated partners in the space to support a pan-Canadian suicide prevention service, in order to provide people across Canada with access to bilingual, 24/7, crisis support from trained responders, using the technology of their choice (voice, text or chat). This service will leverage and build on existing services and experiences of partners dedicated to suicide prevention.
  • $5 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, to Public Safety Canada to develop all-hazard awareness-raising activities that are targeted to specific, at-risk audiences such as low-income Canadians, seniors, people with disabilities, recent immigrants, and indigenous people.
  • $260 million over two years, on a cash basis, starting in 2019–20, to Public Safety Canada to support provincial and territorial disaster relief and recovery efforts through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements Program.
  • $151.23 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, and $9.28 million per year ongoing, to improve emergency management in Canada, including in Indigenous communities. This investment will improve Canada’s ability to predict and respond to threats through the use of early-warning systems, and enhance the understanding of the nature of the risks posed by floods, wildfires and earthquakes. In addition, this investment will help to assess the condition and resilience of Canada’s critical infrastructure – including energy grids, water and food supplies and health services – in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
  • $65 million in 2018–19 for STARS to replace its aging fleet and acquire new emergency ambulance helicopters. This funding will be made available through Public Safety Canada.
  • $211 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, with $49.4 million per year ongoing to support increased resiliency and emergency management on-reserves, and $48 million over four years, starting in 2020–21, to renew funding for infrastructure projects on-reserve that will protect communities from climate-related hazards, which are stated to include support for the Indigenous Fire Marshalls Office and Fire Smart.
  • Over $1.7 billion over five years, and $586.5 million per year ongoing for a new Canada Training Benefit—a personalized, portable training benefit to help people plan for and get the training they need. 
  • $40-billion for the 10-year National Housing Strategy, which will help ensure that vulnerable Canadians, including low-income seniors, have access to housing that meets their needs and that they can afford.
  • $2.2 billion through the federal Gas Tax Fund to address short-term priorities in municipalities and First Nation communities. This will double the government’s commitment to municipalities in 2018–19 and will provide much-needed infrastructure funds for communities of all sizes, all across the country.
  • $1.7 billion over 13 years, starting in 2019–20, to establish a new national high-speed Internet program, the Universal Broadband Fund. The fund would build on the success of the Connect to Innovate program, and would focus on extending “backbone” infrastructure to underserved communities (backbone is the central channel used to transfer Internet traffic at high speed – the Internet equivalent of a major roadway or railway spur). For the most difficult-to-reach communities, funding may also support “last-mile” connections to individual homes and businesses.
  • $25 million over 10 years, starting in 2020–21, to fund Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research CIMVHR’s ongoing operations, the implications from which can often benefit first responders.
The CAFC is an independent, non-profit organization representing about 3,500 fire departments across Canada. The primary mission of CAFC is to promote the highest standard of public safety in an ever-changing and increasingly complex world to ensure the protection of the public through leadership, advocacy and active collaboration with key stakeholders.
Written by Grant Cameron
The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) is thrilled to be working in partnership with Jenny's Heroes Canada once again to support volunteer firefighters across Ontario. 

Jenny's Heroes Canada has decided to offer three Fire Service Equipment Grant opportunities in 2019.

The majority of fire departments in Ontario rely on the services of volunteer firefighters to provide fire protection, education and emergency first response in their communities. Due to smaller populations, with a smaller tax base, many of these departments are challenged to purchase new equipment, gear and technology to protect these firefighters so they can provide the skilled, competent and caring services to the residents they are committed to protect.

Through Jenny’s Heroes Canada, the Jenny Jones Foundation is offering grants of up to $25,000 to provide safety equipment to Ontario’s volunteer fire departments. 

“I have a profound respect for anyone who chooses a life of service to the community,” says Jenny, “even more so when the risks are great.”

Jones grew up in London, Ont. and wishes to give back to her home province.

In May 2018, the Jenny Jones Foundation reached out to the OAFC with a vision to give back to those who serve in their communities, and where a financial contribution would make a significant impact.

The OAFC immediately recognized the potential to work with Jenny by providing a medium to reach those departments in Ontario where this opportunity would make a significant difference. In addition, the opportunity aligned well with the OAFC’s mandate to provide access to resources that help support its members’ role as fire and emergency service leaders in their communities. 

In July 2018, the OAFC and Jenny Jones launched Jenny’s Heroes Canada Fire Service Equipment Grant to support volunteer fire services in Ontario. There was an overwhelming response from departments across Ontario with more than 100 applications received.

Both the OAFC and Jenny were amazed at the incredible response and participation in such an exciting opportunity. After a final review and based on the significant need identified through the application process, Jenny decided to increase the amount of her Jenny’s Heroes Canada grant to $50,000 from the original amount of $25,000, offering grants to six departments that purchased an array of equipment to assist in their public safety efforts. 

“Wow. We received more applications than anyone expected,” says Jenny. “It’s clear the need is great, so I remain committed to continue providing safety equipment to Ontario’s volunteer firefighters. Let’s keep it going!”   

Jenny’s Heroes Canada has decided to offer three Ontario Fire Service Equipment Grant Opportunities in 2019, for up to $25,000 for each opportunity.

Click here for more information about the grants, criteria and the application process.
Written by Grant Cameron
The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) is applauding the provincial government for introducing legislation that will allow full-time firefighters to volunteer as firefighters in their communities.

The legislation, known as Bill 57, the Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018, was introduced in the Legislature earlier this week.

Presently, the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 (FPPA) prohibits full-time firefighters from serving as volunteer firefighters.

Firefighting full time and volunteering on the side is known as “two-hatting” or “double hatting.”

If passed, Schedule 18 of Bill 57 will amend the FPPA to, among other things, enhance protections for volunteer firefighters engaged in double-hatting and address collective bargaining and interest arbitration in the sector.

The OAFC maintains that the legislation, if passed, will protect firefighters who are employed full time and chose to volunteer as a firefighter in the community where they live.

 The OAFC said in a statement that it is also pleased to see proposed changes to reform the interest arbitration process, which will help municipalities' evidence “local economic realities to be fully considered” by the arbitrator.

“We commend the Ford government for acting on these long-standing issues, and look forward to continuing to work together, protecting our firefighters, and ultimately keeping Ontario's residents safe," OAFC president Stephen Hernen, who is fire chief for the Town of Huntsville, said in a statement.

Finance Minister Vic Fedeli introduced the proposed move as part of the province’s 2018 economic outlook and fiscal review.

The changes would prevent firefighters from being disciplined, fined or suspended if they want to volunteer on the side.

Specifically, the legislation would amend the FPPA to prohibit employers and employers’ organizations from refusing to employ a person as a firefighter, refusing to assign a person to fire protection services or discharging a firefighter because the person has worked, is working, or intends to work as a volunteer firefighter.

The legislation’s enhanced protections for two-hatters are expected to provide all workplace parties – both associations and employers alike – with much needed clarity on their rights and responsibilities towards volunteer firefighters in relation to the longstanding issue.

If passed in its current form, Schedule 18 clarifies that working as a volunteer firefighter will not constitute “unlawful activity.” Accordingly, associations will not be permitted to require employers to discharge firefighters because they have, are or intend to work as a volunteer firefighter.
The legislation also proposes the FPPA be amended so that the present three-member arbitration boards be replaced with single arbitrators for dispute resolution.

The amendments also include new criteria to be taken into consideration in an arbitrator’s decision and a requirement that an arbitrator provide written reasons for a decision at the request of either party.

The OAFC represents more than 700 chief fire officers in Ontario, from across 442 municipalities, who are responsible for the management and delivery of fire, rescue and emergency response to 13 million residents.
Written by Grant Cameron
The B.C. Professional Fire Fighters' Burn Fund celebrated its 40th anniversary Oct. 18 by hosting more than 40 local firefighters at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in Vancouver.

The Burn Fund is a registered charity established in April 1978 by the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters and provides life-saving, life-supporting, and life-enriching services to the people in B.C.

Throughout its history, the Burn Fund has played a big part in enhancing the quality of care a burn and trauma patient receives from bedside through to recovery.
The Burn Fund and Capilano Suspension Bridge Park are linked by events that took place in 2007.

That year, severe winter storms caused major damage to Bright Nights Christmas lights display in Stanley Park, severely impacting donations to the Burn Fund. At the same time, a 46-ton tree fell onto Capilano Suspension Bridge, closing the park for five months. 

To celebrate the bridge re-opening, 
Nancy Stibbard, owner and CEO of Capilano Group, decided to hold a fundraiser for the Burn Fund to help replenish lost donations from its annual holiday event. 

That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, as partial proceeds from Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park have been donated to the Burn Fund ever since.
Through the generosity of donors such as the Capilano Group, the Burn Fund has achieved many significant accomplishments. This includes the notable achievement of completing a $13.1-million capital campaign to raise funds to build the new Burn Fund Centre in 2015 – a home away from home for burn and trauma survivors.

Stibbard's donations have exceeded $425,000 and her continued financial support through Canyon Lights has played a significant role in bringing awareness to the Burn Fund. She will be recognized at this year's Responder Dinner Gala on April 27, 2019.

The B.C. Professional Fire Fighters' Burn Fund has been providing prevention and survivor support programs and funding medical care and training for the people of B.C. and the Yukon for almost four decades. The Burn Fund is built by more than 3,800 professional firefighters from 53 communities in B.C. and the Yukon who dedicate their funds and time to the cause.

Click here to watch a video of the event.

Click here to learn more about the Burn Fund.
Written by Grant Cameron
The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFCs) has released its written pre-budget submission to the federal finance committee.

The submission, titled Ensuring Canada’s Competitiveness by Mastering Public Safety Risks, calls for, among other things, enhanced use of federal funds earmarked for first responder mental health.

The CAFC wants the federal government to adjust how it uses $30 million in funds that are set aside for first responder mental health. The recommendation is one of five in the six-page submission.

Specifically, the CAFC is asking the government to adapt and implement Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (ICBT) so that it’s nationally available to first responders rather than just develop a pilot.

Budget 2018 proposed to invest $10 million over five years, starting this year for Public Safety Canada and the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) to develop an ICBT pilot as a means of providing greater access to care and treatment for public safety officers.

The CAFC supports the research levers and states that at least 13 ICBT models have been developed and evaluated, but notes pilots are known to be shelved at the end of the funding period.

“We ask that the project specifications be revised from developing and pilot testing, to adapting, evaluating and implementing, in order to ensure that the $10 million reaches as many first responders as possible,” the CAFC states.

According to the CAFC, the government also proposed to provide $20 million over five years to support a new national research consortium between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment to address the incidence of post-traumatic stress injuries among public safety officers. The CAFC also commends such an initiative.

However, the association is asking that the intention be revised from studying the incidence to studying the implementation of innovations that could help first responders nationally.

“We respectfully disagree that more research to identify the problem is necessary,” the CAFC submission states, noting that many interventions have already been developed for first responders.

“We need to use the funding for implementation (of) science projects that make these interventions accessible in new, innovative, cost effective and appropriate ways to a larger number of responders.”

The CAFC submission asks that the CIPSRT, CIHR, Department of National Defence and Mental Health Commission of Canada work together to implement and evaluate the Road to Mental Health Readiness (R2MR) Program or an equivalent resilience training for all fire departments in the country.

“The federal government has the people, funding, mechanisms and levers. We are asking for the political will to make it happen,” the submission states.

In the brief, the CAFC also recommends that:
  • The government provide funding in the amount of $50 million per year for a fire sector research and innovation program to develop and test hazard responses to social and building code innovations. The CAFC states that Canada needs a more reliable and regular mechanism to respond to innovation.
  • The government implement continued ongoing funding for all Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR) program teams and ensure national deployment strategies are in place. The federal government is providing $3.1 million annually and ongoing to establish the HUSAR program, but the CAFC wants to see stable and predictable funding moving forward.
  • That the government reinstate its Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPP) to enhance regional capacity for all types of emergencies. The JEEP, which offered matching funding for equipment, training and other infrastructure needed by the country’s fire departments, was terminated for reasons unclear to the CAFC.
  • The federal government implement a national fire advisor secretariat to provide substantive expertise in linking federal fire-related initiatives. The CAFC states it would be willing to help provide such a role with the appropriate funding.
The CAFC is asking its members to forward the submission to their federal MP and perhaps include a cover letter describing the importance of one or more of the recommendations to their communities.

Click here for the CAFC submission.
Written by Grant Cameron
The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) has announced winners of the 2018 IAFC Fire Chief of the Year awards, sponsored by Pierce Manufacturing Inc.

Volunteer Fire Chief Herbert Leusch of the Glen Echo Fire Department in Bethesda, Maryland, and career Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White of the San Francisco Fire Department are this year’s winners.

A selection committee appointed by the IAFC reviewed nominations for active chiefs of departments that have shown exemplary contributions in the areas of leadership, innovation, professional development, service to the public and contributions to the fire service community as a whole.

The award recipients will be recognized during a presentation Aug, 9 at Fire-Rescue International’s general session at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas,Texas. Pierce Manufacturing Inc. is the leading global manufacturer of custom fire apparatus.

“I look forward to the captivating moment each year when we share the nominations for the two Fire Chief of the Year award honourees,” said Jim Johnson, president of Pierce Manufacturing. “Chief Leusch and Chief Hayes-White have had distinguished careers. These two leaders have shown how to lead with grace, professionalism, and devotion that inspires others. On behalf of the Pierce Manufacturing team, we’d like to share heartfelt congratulations to Chiefs Leusch and Hayes-White.”

Chief Leusch has been at the helm of the Glen Echo Fire Department for 10 years. The department has 70 personnel and responds to more than 2,200 calls a year. Some of Leusch’s accomplishments include establishing a bicycle emergency response team, developing a heavy-apparatus driver-training program, building advanced life-support capabilities, and co-leading a firefighting task force in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In his day job, he is senior principal at General Dynamics Information Systems.

Chief Hayes-White has been chief of the San Francisco Fire Department since 2004. The department is the largest urban fire department in the world with a female chief. The mother of three has instituted many changes, including introducing a random on-duty alcohol and drug testing policy, the reconfiguration of emergency medical services and the restoration of promotional examinations.
Written by Grant Cameron
TV personality Jenny Jones is working with the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) to offer up to $25,000 to help a volunteer fire department purchase new safety gear, equipment or technology.

Jones, who is best known for hosting a nationally syndicated talk show until 2003, grew up in London, Ont., and wanted to give back to her home province.

She got in touch with the OAFC in May and launched the Jenny’s Heroes Canada Equipment Grant through the Jenny Jones Foundation.

A program called Jenny’s Heroes has donated close to $2 million to communities across 50 states in the U.S.

I have a profound respect for anyone who chooses a life of service to the community, even more so when the risks are great,” Jones said in a statement.

Grant submissions opened July 23 and close Friday, Aug. 31. The successful applicant will be selected by Sept. 24.

Applications will be reviewed by a validation committee from the OAFC and shared with Jenny’s Heroes Canada.

OAFC executive director Richard Boyes is encouraging all volunteer fire departments to make grant submissions. Notices have been sent to all departments across the province.

This is very unique, especially in Ontario, that someone comes along and does this,” he said. “There’s been nothing like this to the best of my knowledge.”

Boyes said Jones reached out to the OAFC out of the blue and “the next thing I knew I was on the phone with Jenny and she said, ‘Okay, this is just what I’m looking for.’

“She wants to help out a department that needs it. She wants to make a difference in the community. That’s what she wants to do.”

Boyes said the OAFC will validate the requests, but it will be up to Jones which department gets the money.

“We’ll help facilitate it, but it will be Jenny’s decision at the end of the day. It’s her money, so she has the ultimate say.”

Boyes said volunteer fire departments in Ontario have many needs and it will be up to the applicants to make a compelling case as to how the equipment will make a difference.

To be eligible and considered for a grant, volunteer departments must be a fire department in Ontario, either municipal or regulated by a fire services board, whose full complement of suppression firefighters are volunteer-based. Only one grant request application per fire department is permitted.

For a list of the full requirements and to download an application form go to

Questions regarding the grant can be sent to Michelle O’Hara at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling 905-426-9865, extension 222.
Written by Maria Church
July 12, 2016 - The Canadian Volunteer Fire Services Association (CVFSA) has selected a new provincial director to represent Manitoba on the national stage.
Written by Chris Karpinchick
The Fire Fighters' Association of Ontario is moving with the times to ensure we are an organization that remains relevant and supportive to our membership, building on a proud tradition and looking ahead to a strong future. Change is necessary.

One of the most important steps has been creating a new partnership with Annex Business Media. We are proud to have a home for our communications in the pages of Canadian Firefighter, a publication our membership enjoys, and a place through which future members will learn about us too. Although this new relationship ends the FFAO's independent publication, we believe Canadian Firefighter offers relevant information, feature stories and issues around education and training that represent the values of our membership. Stay current with us here.

Moving with the times with the help of a local media expert Kelly Waterhouse, we've created a new user-friendly website, complete with a mobile-friendly format. Members have instant access to timely information, direct contacts to the resources that will support their needs, and the opportunity for fire departments to promote their fundraising and education events. From buying a membership to filling out executive nominations, booking a campsite for the 2016 convention, or finding out when we're meeting again, it's all online and accessible to everyone, any time.

Follow us on Twitter; get connected and stay in touch.

While some things needed to change, the FFAO knows our roots are in the community of firefighters we serve. While we all work hard, we like to play hard too. But we're at our best we can do both. Thus, a highlight for the FFAO is the annual convention.

The 2015 convention, hosted by the Wainfleet Fire Department, was a great success. From education and training opportunities to the meetings and trade show, we packed a lot into this week-long gathering. The social events, camping and family friendly atmosphere makes this convention an opportunity for firefighters of all ages and stages to come together as a community. The firefighter games created some friendly competition and the children's activities made the experience something everyone could enjoy.

We thank the Wainfleet crew, not only for hosting us in 2015, but for doing such a fine job that we're heading back there this year on July 25 to Aug. 1. Don't miss out. We've planned a two-day bus extrication course offered by Code 4, and are working with Spartan Rescue for a full week of specialty training.


Our new FFAO executive is working hard to ensure we stay true to our roots, continue to forge ahead by staying relevant and offering our membership benefits and services that support them, and their families. We offer experience and knowledge with issues such as the section 21 committee and presumptive legislation. We can offer assistance with WSIB claims, and difficult issues such as line-of-duty deaths, and other benefits that families may not know about, to which they are entitled in the case of injury or tragedy. The FFAO executive is here to help and will advocate on your behalf.

Honouring our past is an important part of the FFAO's mandate, and we actively participate in several memorial services each year, including the memorial parade and service in Ottawa, and the annual gathering at the Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst. Please consider joining us there on Saturday, June 25, when we honour our fallen.

Throughout the year, our quarterly meetings are structured to offer professional speakers from various trades within the fire service to educate our membership on issues relevant to our work, education and safety standard. We are always working to improve our programs and provide current courses that will benefit firefighters. The only way to be the best is to learn from the best.

Over the next year, we will be increasing membership benefits, planning ahead for education and training, and looking for ways to keep the current membership engaged while welcoming new members.

As the FFAO looks to the future, we welcome new members, be it individuals, fire departments or businesses who understand the value of continuing an organization that has proudly been a part of the fire service in this province for over 100 years. Consider being a part of our tradition.

Chris Karpinchick
President, Fire Fighters Association of Ontario
Written by Brad Patton
I am the communication chair for the Fire Fighters' Association of Ontario (FFAO), focused on our organization's information exchange via our quarterly publication in Canadian Firefighter and through our new website,

I started in the fire service in 1983 when I joined the Flamborough Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter. By 1997 I was the deputy chief. When amalgamation transformed communities, I became an area commander for Hamilton Fire Department. For the last 12-plus years I have been fortunate to be the fire chief for Centre Wellington Fire & Rescue.

Somewhere along my way in the fire service I had forgotten my roots. I have been full time since 1990. I was an active member of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) for more than 15 years and also a part of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC). It was at meetings for these organizations that I heard the FFAO was still around and active. Despite being a life member, it had been years since I attended an FFAO convention or a general meeting.

In 2015 the FFAO approached me to sit as its representative on the Ontario fire-service advisory committee under section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. After some thought I felt I owed the fire service and the more than 20,000 volunteer firefighters in Ontario a debt for this career. The health and safety of firefighters has always been a primary concern of mine. However, a last-minute change meant I could not represent the FFAO on the committee.

I thought my good deed had come to an end before it started, but I was then asked to sit on the board of directors and assist the FFAO in creating a new media strategy.

Media relations is not only necessary for the fire service in public education and safety messaging, but also in terms of legal accountability, resource sharing and learning how to work with media partners.

When I thought about media for the FFAO, I wanted to ensure we had a strategy that made our members feel connected – to the executive, to our partners and to one another.

Well, here we are – a new publisher, new website, new Twitter feed, a Facebook page and a lot of new "friends."

Since my introduction to the board, I have spent countless hours attending meetings, have worked with the executive reaching out over the phone or via email, and working as part of a dynamic team. It struck me that these people are true volunteers. The FFAO has no big expense accounts; many of my fellow executive members have full-time jobs, as well as actively volunteering as firefighters in their own communities.

These people donate their time and a great deal of effort to make life better for firefighters who are active members of the FFAO. They represent firefighters on provincial committees, they work with the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management on special projects, and they work on firefighter memorial services. They partner with OAFC, the CAFC, the Ministry of Labour and the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association. If there is a group that is working for the betterment of firefighters, the FFAO is always willing to help however it can.

The FFAO has proud history that dates back to Aug. 29, 1899, when the inaugural meeting of The Volunteer Firemen's Association of Ontario was held in Toronto. This was the beginning of our association.

Changes came on Aug. 2, 1909, in Paris, Ont., when membership was made available to all volunteer, fully paid, partly paid, exempt and veteran firefighters. With an increased membership, we adopted the new name of The Firemen's Association of Ontario.

On July 23, 1910, Letters of Patent were granted to the association. The first constitution and bylaws were adopted at a meeting in Welland on Aug. 2,1910.

By 1963, to reflect the changes in the membership and the occupation itself, we adopted the name The Fire Fighters' Association of Ontario.

It's a new era in fire fighting; rules, laws, and safety standards have changed. Our organization has evolved but our mandate remains clear. The FFAO executive and its members have been, and will continue to actively participate on provincial committees dealing with equipment standards, occupational health and safety, firefighter training and legislation.

Please check out our website at Follow us on Twitter @joinFFAO and help spread the word.

But above all, I ask you to consider becoming an active member of the FFAO. Have your voice heard. Share your knowledge and experience. In the fire service, we know the power of teamwork and dedication. Help us make the fire service better and safer for all involved, so everybody gets home safely.

Brad Patton
Director and communications chair
Written by FFAO Committee
Convention Update

The Fire Fighters' Association of Ontario (FFAO) convention returns to Wainfleet in August and members of the Wainfleet Fire Department need our support. Come out and enjoy yourselves. It's our convention, it's our training, it's our games. It's our time to meet up with old and new friends.

In 2015, we were welcomed by Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs and Niagara Region councillor Alan Castleman, as well as Fire Chief Harry Flagg.

Brock Township firefighter Jackie Mussel brought greetings from Fire Service Women of Ontario. I would like to quote Jackie on an important message: "Women are unquestionably newer and fewer to the fire service, and yet we stand ready to proudly and competently support fire departments, chiefs and firefighters to help integrate all of these capable and dedicated individuals into the frontline roles of protecting and serving our public."

FFAO ambassador Tiffany Lensilink brought greetings, as did the president of the Wainfleet Firefighters' Association, Gord Davies.

David Conner was the speaker for the education portion of the event. Connor, a district chief with Mississauga Fire & Emergency Services, who spearheaded the department's peer team, discussed mental-health issues among firefighters, including PTSD. The presentation was excellent, with a lot of food for thought.

The Wainfleet firefighters will use the same excellent venue for the 2016 convention. We will be on the level baseball diamonds and soccer fields. Mayor Jeffs said we did an exceptional job protecting the grounds and sports fields for the kids in the community who use this space daily, and thus has welcomed us back for 2016. Everything will be on site . . . the training, education, hospitality night, trade show and the games. Come out and enjoy your convention.

The 2016 convention is going to be bigger and better. Be there. Bring a friend. Enjoy.

We are looking for a host department for 2017; Seaforth had to move the convention back a year due to a conflict with a local festival, so we are looking for a fire department with space to host this great event. Let us know if you can help.

Tentatively the future conventions look like this:
2017 – OPEN
2018 – Seaforth
2019 – Mount Forest
2020 – OPEN
2021 – OPEN

If your department would like to host a convention please contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

John Payne
Convention chair

Specialty training on tap

Thanks to everyone for their hard work and dedication in assisting with all the training at the 2015 convention.

Since then I have been trying to organize several different training opportunities for the 2016 convention. Code 4 is confirmed for a two-day bus extrication course and I’m working with Spartan Rescue to secure a full week of specialty training such as machinery rescue tech, force the door and others.

Registration forms and course information will be posted on our website,, once courses are confirmed.

If anyone has ideas, information regarding new training opportunities or feedback, please pass it along to me. I’m always open to suggestions from members about new ways to bring wanted training ideas to reality.

Shawna Wyant
Fire prevention and education chair

Membership has its benefits

When you become a member of the Fire Fighters' Association of Ontario (FFAO), your voice is heard by our executive. The FFAO will put your ideas into action and if you have questions or concerns about issues related to fire fighting, we will work to help you get the answers you need.

We are always working to get special discounts on products and services that benefit our members and their families. Our newsletter now comes right to your doorstep, in this magazine. You are invited to quarterly meetings to listen to professionals from various trades and businesses, and from different fire departments who may help you become a better firefighter or improve the health and safety of your entire station.

We have executive members on the Ontario fire-service advisory committee under section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, who work with WSIB and who have health-and-safety training. These members can offer help with difficult issues such as line-of-duty deaths.

Memberships are available for fire departments, fire stations or individuals, fire-service related corporations or industries, and municipal, provincial and federal governments. An individual membership is just $50 per year. Fire departments can join for $50 per station, per year. Associate membership is just $200 a year and a website sponsor is $200 a year.

If you are interested in a membership or have any questions about becoming a member, please do not hesitate to contact me. We hope you'll join us.

Bevin Brooks
Membership chair

Association aims to boost membership

Our association is a flourishing and vibrant organization and we will make our presence known through our new website,

Since the annual general meeting in August, members of the Fire Fighters’ Association of Ontario (FFAO) board have been very busy organizing and reorganizing all the old and new board positions. We have provided all board members’ contact information under the About Us tab on the site and we encourage you to contact any member if you have any questions or concerns.

If you’re interested in giving back to the fire service, consider running for an office on the executive this year. You can make a difference.

We are looking to expand our membership and grow our association. We’ve proudly been a part of the Ontario fire-services community for more than 100 years. Be a part of the tradition.

I invite you to learn more about us at and follow us on Twitter @joinFFAO

John Payne
Board chair

Executive President: Chris Karpinchick (Karpy)
Past president: Dave Carruthers
1st vice president: vacant
2nd vice president: Ron King
Secretary: Veronda Brydges
Treasurer: Gilles Boisvert

Board of directors Chair: John Payne
Director: William S. Burns
Director: Brad Patton
Director: Dennis Thain
Director: Marion Kuiper-Lampman

Committee chairs
Credentials: Karen Brooks
Convention: John Payne
Fire prevention & education: Shawna Wyant
Fire services society: Marion Kuiper-Lampman
Games and competitions: Steve Pandur
Laws and legislation: Wayne Nie
Membership: Bevin Brooks
Occupational health and safety: Jeri Ottley, Jonathan Karn

Padre: Rev. Stephen Berryman
Sergeant at arms/regalia: John Uptegrove
Training: Shawna Wyant
Ways and means: Linda Carruthers

Consider running for office

We had a very successful convention in Wainfleet in August and I am certainly looking forward to an even better performance this summer.

With that in mind, it is time to start thinking of nominations for the next term of office so we can ensure that we continue to move forward with the goals of the Fire Fighters’ Association of Ontario.

Nomination forms for the next term of office are available on our website, If you or a friend are considering stepping forward to volunteer your services, now is the time.

Remember it is your association and it is up to the members to keep the FFAO strong and vibrant.

Dave Carruthers
Immediate past president

Clarity for 2016 firefighter games

I learned a lot running the games and I apologize for any problems. The 2016 games will be run by the FFAO rules and guidelines.

I am in the process of putting all the rules and layouts in simple form on signs that will be posted at the games so the there is no misunderstanding about what’s expected at each event.

I would like to thank everyone who helped me run the games. There are too many names to remember, but you know who you are, and I appreciate your support. Special thanks to Dave Thompson, Rob Timmson and Ted Lucas of the Niagara District Fire Fighters Association for judging the games.

Congratulations to everyone who took part.

We also ran a successful game day for the children, which went over really well; every child who participated won a prize. Grand Valley set up its children's water ball, which was a blast for everyone.

I would also like to thank Christine Willick and Brandon and Brittany Keller from Wainfleet for all their help.

Extra special thanks to co-chair Beckers Devris; without her help in setting all these events up, this would have been impossible to manage. Thank you so much!

Steve Pandur
Games chair

Remembering the fallen

The memorial parade and service at the Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst in June was a great success thanks to the support from the OFC, King Township honour guard and various chapters of the Red Knights. We hope to see you all this year, on Saturday June 25.

The memorial parade and service held at the FFAO convention in Wainfleet also had a good turn out. The event was officiated by our padre, Rev. Stephen Berryman. I know most of the membership stayed the weekend, not wanting to miss the parade and service to our departed.

In September, I attended the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation memorial parade in Ottawa. First, I attended the Ottawa Fire Department service and parade for its fallen members on the Friday. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Sunday was the national event, and although we all got drenched in the rain, it did not deter us from paying our respects to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and to the families they left behind.

On Oct. 2 and 3, I attended the funeral of acting Capt. John Kovacs, of the Tillsonburg Fire Department.

The Ontario memorial parade and service that was to be held on Oct. 4, 2015, was cancelled due to construction around the site at Queen’s Park. Due to safety reasons, the organizing committee deemed it fit to honour the names of those departed at a ceremony next year. I will post that date when it is confirmed.

I would like all of you to consider attending some of these memorials as they are special time to remember and honour those with whom we have worked and those who have made the fire service what it is today.

For more details contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

Dennis Thain
Director and memorial chair

Navigating the health-and-safety process

As I was driving home from another funeral for a firefighter struck down by cancer, I could not get something out of my mind: it was a conversation I had while standing outside the church before the funeral service was to begin for acting Capt. John Kovacs of the Tillsonburg Fire Department. A woman approached me. She was confused as to why Captain Kovacs’ passing due to cancer was being reported as a line-of-duty death. I responded with a phrase that I had heard at another funeral: “He did not die in a fire. He died because he was at the fires.” This seemed to clear it up for her but still left a nagging sadness in my heart.

The difficult thing to grasp about cancer is that the disease hits us years after we have been exposed to hazardous situations, and the accumulated effects of those exposures continue throughout a firefighter’s career. In the past we took of our packs off as soon as we could and I shudder to think what we breathed in when doing overhaul.

Today, the only advice I can give my fellow firefighters is to always wear air packs or respirators when we are in contact with any possible off gases. When you think about it, that makes a lot of sense even if it is uncomfortable. Also educate yourselves about the chemicals and carcinogens to which we are being exposed and how to deal with them safely. Start with the guidance notes of the Ontario fire-service advisory committee under section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and your own department’s SOPs. Learn how to minimize the dangers.

One last thought: at the point of being diagnosed with a cancer a firefighter and his or her family are overwhelmed. It is devastating news. Then, the families tries to deal with Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) on top of everything else. The presumptive legislation that has been put in place makes this process a lot easier but does not make it automatic. Also, there are a number of other benefits that families may have to ask for that may not be offered up front, unless the family knows to ask for them. Anybody who has ever had to deal with WSIB knows its seems to speak a different language. This makes it difficult to understand what is needed to speed the process along. The adjudicators at WSIB are not trying to put something over on you; they just have to work within a bureaucracy that can be frustrating at best.

That is where I can help. I have a working knowledge of “comp-eeze.” Please feel free to contact me with your questions. I can guide you through the process and advocate on behalf of our members.

Jeri Ottley
Health and safety chair

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