New fire training regs put heat on municipalities
Mandatory firefighter training regulations from the provincial government could add more financial burden to Ontario’s municipalities.
“There’s changes coming, the regulations have been released for comments, the timelines are tight, almost like there’s an election coming,” Algonquin Highlands fire chief Mike Cavanagh told municipal councillors during a March 2 meeting.
As Cavanagh explained, there are two proposed regulations, one dealing with risk assessments, “and the training one, which will take a lot more to achieve.”
A report from Cavanagh reads that, “Practical testing would involve an OFMEM (Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management) provincial evaluator attending with local evaluators doing each skill. The cost of the local evaluators would be charged to the municipality. As an example, for Firefighter Level 1 there are six practical skills; approximate cost for Level 1 testing would be $1,000, which does not include hours for the number of recruits being tested.
“There are unknowns as well around the cost impact of technical rescue testing, as this has yet to be approved. Technical rescue for water and ice, as well as pumper operations, would be certifications we would retroactively get for some of our current firefighters.
“There has been no announcement of funding from the government to support these training requirements. The total cost of the regulation is not yet known due to the new technical rescue standard. Once a more firm costing is estimated I will be sure to update council.”
There is widespread concern about the potential financial implications of the new regulations. “There’s some real concerns around if [the] province fails to support, financially, this change,” Cavanagh told councillors.
“That will produce the impact,” said Mayor Carol Moffatt. “It seems, anymore, so much of this legislation gets put on the townships with a lack of funding to support it, and we end up having to go to the taxpayer to pay for it and it’s why the lobby’s important.”
If it needs to, Moffatt said council could write yet another letter about new legislation without funding attached to it.
“It’s our new job, lobbying,” she said.
A list of comments from Cavanagh will be sent to the provincial government.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario is also making a submission regarding the regulations.