Province changes firefighting training requirements
Changes from the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to the Fire Protection and Prevention Act will create new criteria for mandatory training and certification of firefighters in the province.
The changes will also cost municipalities more money.
As Minden Hills interim fire chief Mike Bekking explained to councillors during a May 10 committee-of-the-whole meeting, as of July 1, 2019, firefighters will be expected to attain heightened certification with the National Fire Protection Association.
Beginning on that date, any new recruits to volunteer fire departments must be certified through the Office of the Fire Marshal. While existing firefighters will be grandfathered, anyone being promoted to positions such as pump operator or company officer will require certification at the appropriate level.
In order to provide training, Bekking told council the four fire chiefs in Haliburton County will conduct a joint school.
“We will be running a school, a firefighting school, where we will train the firefighters in the practical piece,” Bekking said.
There is also a theory component to the training, although theory testing is provided online, free of charge, by the fire marshal’s office.
There will be cost implications for municipalities for the practical training, as evaluators from the fire marshal’s office are required to conduct testing.
“There will be a cost to that, and there will be a cost to the additional training that will be required for those firefighters,” Bekking told councillors.
Level 1 firefighting testing will include firefighters being asked to perform six scenarios of a possible 40. Having an evaluator come to do the testing will cost about $1,000, a report from Bekking indicated, and that amount does not include the hours for the recruits being tested.
The legislative changes will also require municipalities to perform community risk assessments, which, as Bekking explained, include a review of infrastructure, demographics, event history, etc. Municipalities will be required to review these assessments annually, and resubmit them every five years.