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Editor’s pick 1 : Stopbad, June 2016

Comox Fire Chief Gord Schreiner offered to share his Second’s Count training program that he described in his Stopbad column in June – and the emails poured in. Chiefs, deputies and training officers from coast to coast to coast, in eloquent emails explaining their time and budget constraints, requested copies of the lesson plan that is designed to enhance the speed at which firefighters perform everyday tasks – donning PPE and SCBA, stretching a line, throwing a ladder, setting up a fan, deploying an AED, performing VEIS. The program boosts efficiency and effectiveness but as Schreiner notes, a firefighter who is participating in meaningful training is a happy firefighter – and is more likely to make a positive difference on the fire ground.

Editor’s pick 2: Burning for research, August 2016

In January, a barn fire in Puslinch, Ont., in which 43 racehorses perished, caused considerable anguish; the horseracing community was devastated and there were calls for sprinklers in buildings that house animals. Many members of the volunteer fire department in Puslinch knew the barn owners, the horse trainers, their owners, or others affected by the fire. So when an opportunity to learn more about the science of barn fires presented itself, Puslinch firefighters seized the moment and conducted a controlled burn that enabled them to study fire dynamics in agricultural buildings.

Editor’s pick 3: Trainer’s Corner, August 2016

Ed Brouwer is passionate about training, and firefighter safety. Which is why he gets a bit hot under the collar when firefighters fail his Firefighter’s Ghost mayday maze. The point of the exercise is for firefighters to recognize when they are in trouble and call a mayday; unfortunately, when navigating the maze in front of peers during training, bravado and ego tend to rear their heads, and firefighters fail to call a mayday, attempting, instead, to get themselves out of trouble and, inevitably, making things worse. Participants at a recent exercise did, however, experience the wrath of Ed, learn their limits, and leave with a new respect for the one guy of 105 to have the guts to admit he was in trouble and call for help.

Editor’s pick 4: Regional response, September 2016

Rodney Schmidt was at the training ground in Peace River, Alta., on May 4, instructing live fire, when he got a call no fire chief ever wants, let alone when he or she is out of town: there was a fire at the massive Norboard oriented strand board plant at home in High Level – 300 kilometres north – and all hands were needed. Schmidt and three of his firefighters doffed their training gear and headed north, with lights and sirens, to a textbook operation that involved departments from across the Peace region, and reinforced the freshly inked Northwest Alberta Emergency Resourcing Agreement that gives chiefs the ability to quickly and efficiently call in resources. Throw in the fact that Schmidt is president of the Peace Regional Fire Chiefs and was hosting the training and conference, and it made for a stressful week!
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Let's Talk

Editor’s pick 5: Let’s talk, November 2016

Fire Chief Mike Vilneff writes, often humourously, about things we don’t like to talk about: the need to lose weight; the benefits of a detoxifying, cleansing program; fear of his hernia surgery. But the column that hit home for many fire officers focused on work-life balance, and the art of prioritizing, delegating, and – the one thing fire chiefs are loath to do – say no. “I am paid for 35 hours a week,” Vilneff writes in the November issue. “If you are at all concerned about your physical well-being, I encourage you to find time for the simpler things in life.” A new year’s resolution, perhaps? And if not, still worth reading as you wait for the pager to sound! » Read more...

Editor’s pick 6: Mandating fitness, June 2016

Think you can’t have a mandatory fitness program in a volunteer or composite station? Think again – and there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, because the Clearview Fire Department in Ontario has created the program for you. In January, 100 volunteer firefighters took Clearview’s mandatory physical abilities test; no one quit the department; no one gave up during the test; and everyone passed! Solid leadership and firefighter engagement allowed the department to successfully roll out its mandatory physical fitness test. » Read more...

Editor’s pick 7: Leading Edge, September 2016

Fire chiefs in British Columbia are leading much-needed change to ensure that training, standards and levels of service jibe with budgets and resources. Pitt Meadows Chief Don Jolley knows the B.C. Structural Firefighters Training Playbook inside out, and eloquently explains in his first in a series of columns called Leading Edge how the new standard evolved and what it means for departments to declare whether they are exterior, interior or full service. Other provinces are paying close attention. » Read more...

Editor’s pick 8: First Line, May 2016

Samantha Hoffmann is a public-education rock star! She’s the NFPA’s 2014 public educator of the year – and she’s Canadian, a member of Barrie Fire & Emergency Services in Ontario. Hoffman’s point, in her inaugural First Line column in May, is valid: fire departments train suppression firefighters and hazmat teams and technical rescue squads, but anybody can do public education . . . right? Wrong. » Read more...

Editor’s pick 9, Leadership Forum, December 2016

Toronto Fire Chief Matt Pegg offers sage advice in his Leadership Forum column. “ The only thing worse than not getting a senior position for which you have applied is getting a senior position for which you are not adequately prepared.” » Read more...

Editor’s pick 10: Keeping clean, December 2016

The Haldimand County Fire Department in Ontario didn’t have $600,000 kicking around to spend on extra sets of bunker gear for its 280 firefighters, so creativity was in order when it wanted to implement a hygiene and decontamination program. As Chief Rob Grimwood explains in, newly adopted protocols ensure that firefighters leave toxic matter at the scene rather than brining it into the trucks, the halls or their homes. » Read more...

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