Department News
Written by Maria Church
July 27, 2016 - Public education at the Calgary Fire Department has gone to the dogs – and it's helping draw attention to fire-safety messages. 

Paul Aziz, a community safety officer with the Calgary Fire Department, shared with us a fire-safety video that stars Flint, a retired search and rescue dog. The video has already been viewed almost 1,500 times on YouTube.

". . . we are finding it is getting the message across to kids as well as adults," Aziz said in an email, adding that he is more than happy to share the video with fire services across Canada.

Written by Haida Siegmann and Jennifer Dawkins
June 24, 2016, Vancouver - Many fire departments have a diversity agenda, but few have an outreach team to help encourage diverse communities to join fire services. What can those who are not decision makers do to further diversity in our departments? How about getting a group of your fire pals together, and creating a firefighting camp for teenage girls?

That is exactly what a group of female firefighters from the Metro Vancouver area did in 2011. Modeled after a similar program in New York state, Camp Ignite is an annual four-day/three-night camp in the Metro Vancouver area for teenage girls of all cultures. Now in its sixth year, Camp Ignite is organized by a volunteer committee of female firefighters and delivered in partnership with several fire departments as a co-operative instruction venture between volunteer mentors and fire department duty crews.

Up to 20 teenage girls complete the program annually. Participants develop new skills such as CPR and fire-extinguisher training, and, through participating in challenging fire-training scenarios, surpass their personal expectations, explore where they thought their boundaries were, and have the opportunity to surpass them. The young women climb a 100-foot aerial ladder, rappel down the outside of a building, ride a fire truck and take a hydrant, don a full hazmat suit, use auto-extrication tools on a wrecked car, as well search a smoke house, locate and rescue a victim. Completing those tasks can help boost a young woman's self esteem, and it's something they will never forget.

For the fire-department mentors, the opportunity to influence and support these young women is beyond fulfilling. To hear a young woman say that she can do anything she wants to do in this world fills a mentor with pride and helps keep the flame of passion for community service flowing. Many of these young women complete camp and want to be firefighters – how could they not!

Camp Ignite not only provides young women with opportunities to empower themselves, but they have fun, make new friends, and learn from strong female role models.
"Over the years I have had the privilege of receiving the guidance and mentorship from many men and women across the fire service," said former peer mentor Ashley Lewis. "Programs such as the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services Youth Academy and Camp Ignite have allowed me to meet and learn from the men and women that have been my inspiration while pursuing a career in the fire service. I will be forever grateful for all the guidance I have received and aspire to be as great as the men and women who have inspired me."

Fire departments involved with Camp Ignite can participate by sponsoring a camper, hosting the event, and promoting their department to young women who may be interested in pursuing a career in fire fighting. A hosting department may have up to 30 young women and female firefighters on site participating in firefighting activities.

To date Camp Ignite has been hosted by 10 different municipalities in the Vancouver area with two new fire departments hosting in 2016 – Mission Fire/Rescue Service and Langley Township Fire Department. A live-fire training day is offered in conjunction with the Justice Institute of BC Fire & Safety Division at the Maple Ridge campus. The camp offers no shortage of opportunities to cultivate cultural growth in the fire service and showcase men and women working together successfully.

Each year the number of firefighting camps for young women taking place throughout North America grows. In 2013, Camp Ignite hosted a firefighter from Cal Fire – California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection – who was interested in organizing a program in her state. Camp Cinder is now in its third year in California. In 2015, a team from Spokane, Wash., visited Camp Ignite to look into starting a camp in the region. More and more people in the fire service recognize camps as an effective way to give back and be proactive in a diversity initiative.

Camp Ignite provides a venue that encourages more women to explore the fire service as a career choice, whether it is directly through participation, through conversations about the camp with family, friends and relatives, or as a result of raising the profile of women and men successfully working together in the fire service.

Will this grassroots initiative result in an organic increase in recruitment? Time will tell, but the young women who participate in Camp Ignite are moving into the fire services. Camp Ignite's first campers are getting serious about careers and a number of them are now volunteer firefighters, or are following a path to become first responders. Some former campers are exploring other male-dominated careers. A 2011 peer mentor, who is currently working as a volunteer firefighter, is in the final stages of the hiring process with a large career department – she will be the first participant of Camp Ignite to realize a position as a full-time firefighter.

Twenty campers may not sound like a large number, but it is significant, especially in a province that currently has about 80 female full-time firefighters. Camp Ignite is successful, and the results are making a difference, yet it is just one solution in a path to a diverse fire service. More importantly, Camp Ignite is a solution brought to you by the members of the fire service who are on the front lines supporting communities each and every day.

For more information about Camp Ignite, please visit www.campignite.com or follow on Facebook at CAMP IGNITE.


Haida Siegmann is captain of the fire prevention office for North Vancouver City Fire Department. Jennifer Dawkins is a firefighter for Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services.
Written by Maria Church
April 5, 2016 - John Uptegrove, captain and training officer for Puslinch Fire and Rescue Services in Ontario, was named the 2015 Ontario Training Officer of the Year on Jan. 6.

Not long after the Uptegrove received the recognition, he served as incident commander for a devastating barn fire in Puslinch that killed 43 racehorses. The barn’s owners and the horses were well known to members of the fire department, who trained with them on large-animal rescues in 2015.

The barn was fully engulfed when crews arrived, which made rescuing the horses impossible, Uptegrove explained.

“Emotionally, because we’d been in those barns and walked through them, it was hard to know they’d lost those horses,” Uptegrove said. “The guys all felt sorry for the owners and trainers. It’s such a big loss.”

Uptegrove has been a firefighter for Puslinch for 29 years, and said he enjoys training new firefighters. His advice for new trainers is to get educated and informed about the challenges in the fire service and the unique needs of each department.

“Training is near and dear to my heart,” he said. “I want to make sure everyone goes home at night.”

Uptegrove was awarded his distinction by the Ontario Association of Fire Training Officers during the annual conference in September, and was recognized by his township in January.

Puslinch Fire Chief Steven Goode said in an email Uptegrove is integral to the success and safety of his department, and surrounding departments as well.

“John does not underestimate the value of training and ensures that our staff practise and maintain their basic skills,” Goode said.
Written by Maria Church
April 5, 2016 - A partnership among Globe, DuPont Protection Technologies and the United-States-based National Volunteer Fire Council is once again giving away gear to 13 North American departments.

For the fifth year running, a total of 52 sets of Globe turnout gear will be donated to mostly volunteer departments in Canada and the United States that serve populations of 25,000 or less.

Applications are accepted until June 1. Learn more at www.nvfc.org/globe-gear-donation.

Read about last year's winners, L’Original Fire Department in Champlain, Ont.
Written by Maria Church
April 5, 2016 - The Surrey Fire Service in British Columbia has created a brochure to teach firefighters what they can do to reduce their risks for cancer.

The brochure was developed to illustrate a report on firefighters and cancer co-authored by Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis, as well as Larry Thomas, deputy fire chief of operations for the City of Surrey, Dr. Kenneth Kunz and Martha Dow, Ph.D., for the University of the Fraser Valley.

“The risks (of cancer) are higher,” Garis said, “but we also know that there are things you can do to alleviate the risks as well."

The brochure lists the importance of exercise, diet, sleep, medical screening and safety procedures on the job, among other things.

The department released the brochure internally in February, but Garis said the goal is for other departments to use it as well. 

Access the brochure online at cjr.ufv.ca/firefighters-cancer/ 
Written by Maria Church
Feb. 24, 2016 - Roomy is a good way to describe the new fire station that is now home to members of Belleville Fire & Emergency Services in Ontario.

Firefighters moved into the new 22,500 square-foot hall in June last year, and Chief Mark MacDonald said, they brought more than 60 years worth of equipment that was previously stored in a 5,000 square-foot station.

"It was an adjustment," MacDonald said. "Over the years you adapt to shoehorn in to fit what you can. You get used to being crammed in."

The new six-bay, two-storey station – one of four operated by the department – is now the operational hub and houses suppression, prevention, public education, administration and training staff all under one roof.

The building is the city's first post-disaster construction, is fully wheelchair accessible, and includes a storefront.

"We're finding people are really enjoying that they can come in the front door," MacDonald said. "There's a waiting area, there are meeting rooms, there are offices and everything is fully accessible with a full-size elevator."

Another addition is a hose tower that doubles as a five-storey training tower for high-angle rescues and high-rise ladder scenarios. The tower can also duplicate the Scott FireFit challenge. Belleville has an active FireFit team that has placed internationally in firefighter combat challenges.

The station is centrally located in the city, which has significantly decreased response times, MacDonald said. Most notably, crews are now closer to the 600-acre industrial park.

"Belleville is very active with economic development for industry," MacDonald said. "Quite often industry looks at emergency response capabilities for their insurance companies and they look to what services cities can offer . . . we were able to improve our response time and that's a big bonus for encouraging businesses to come to town."

The two-year project cost about $7.5 million, and stayed within budget, MacDonald said. The department is also building two more stations and both are expected to open within the year.
Written by Maria Church
Feb. 24, 2016 - An assistance-based program that offers low-income families and homeowners with physical barriers free combination smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms is helping a northern Ontario department keep its community and firefighters safe.

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue partnered with Union Gas and the Fire Marshal's Public Fire Safety Council though Project Zero to launch the SAFE (Smoke/CO alarms for everyone) program late last year.

Union Gas donated $3,000 towards combination smoke/CO alarms that will be installed in about 100 homes in the community. Residents qualify for the program based on demonstrated financial or accessibility needs.

Ontario passed legislation in 2014 that requires all homes to have a working carbon monoxide alarm on every level.

Fire Chief John Hay said compliance in the community is growing, but increasing awareness of the dangers of CO is an ongoing challenge for the department.

"Any medical call we go to now, all our firefighters on their medical bags carry CO detectors; it's turned on before they go into the building," Hay said. "There have been firefighters and paramedics who have been hurt and hospitalized after going to a call for an unconscious [person] and finding extremely high levels of CO."

Hay said the SAFE program is also another method for fire prevention and public-education staff to engage with the community and encourage compliance.

"It does bring a little bit more awareness," he said, "but our prevention activities with our fire trucks with our suppression staff is getting the most value."

The SAFE program runs until the department hands out all its combination alarms, but Hay said he hopes to create a similar program in the future with other sponsors.
Written by Maria Church
Feb. 18, 2016 - Canada's Office of the Secretary to the Governor General is reminding fire chiefs to nominate members of their departments who have served 20 years or more for the Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal.

According to the Governor General's office, more than 31,000 medals have been awarded since its creation in 1985. The medals are given to full-time and volunteer firefighters, as well as wildfire firefighters, who have served 20 years or more, to recognize their outstanding service to their communities and to the country.

"An important component of the Canadian Honours System, the Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal is a tangible and lasting way to honour you, the men and women of our fire services, who dedicate yourselves to preserving Canada's public safety, thus improving the quality of your fellow citizens' lives and sense of security," the office states. "Not only is the medal intended to recognize your dedicated service, but it also pays tribute to your good conduct, industry and efficiency."

For more information on the program, and to access the new electronic nomination form, visit www.gg.ca/esm

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