Association News
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.

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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, ffao.on.ca

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 www.ffao.on.ca. 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, ffao.on.ca, 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, ffao.on.ca

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 ffao.on.ca 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, ffao.on.ca. 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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