CFFF Courage Vol.14 NA


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T owards the end of 2018 my colleagues at the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) and I met with our elected officials, including the Prime Minister, several cabinet Ministers, MPs, Senators as well as departmental staff. Sixteen chiefs had a total of 69 meetings. We welcomed an additional 42 to the reception we hosted for MPs and Senators the first evening. Our conversations were focussed; but they were also up close and personal. Before heading to the Hill, my colleagues and I learned that between the 16 of us, we had attended 14 funerals for line of duty deaths due to suicide in the past year. The memory of the recently Fallen strengthened our call to action. The Federal Government has already allocated $30M to mental health research and treatment. We are now asking them to reach for immediate term solutions - at a minimum ensuring all firefighters have access to resilience training, particularly for volunteer departments who all too often are left to make do with insufficient training budgets. We also made other requests. The first was for a research and innovation fund that would ensure that the fire service has the capacity to keep up with building and social innovations from our world first innovations. Consider for example that we are first in the world in the construction of tall wood buildings and the second country in the world to legalize cannabis. Are our departments keeping up with these innovations in terms of resources and knowledge to safely and efficiently manage these innovations? Our next request was to expedite the rules of engagement for national deployment of heavy urban search and rescue teams. If and when they are needed outside of their home provinces, they need to be able to deploy in the same manner that we can do so for wildfires. Our third request was to reinstate a modified version of the former Joint Emergency Preparedness Program to help all departments but particularly volunteer departments, and the establishment of a national fire advisor secretariat. Importantly, we also expressed strong support for shared goals with the International Association of Firefighters. This includes prohibiting flame retardants in upholstered furni- ture; expediting action on the firefighter safety objective; and continued funding for the HAZMAT training program. While addressing key issues was our primary motivation, we also expressed our thanks for what is working. Having served in the fire sector for several decades, it is my observation, and one that I know many of my senior colleagues share, that the breadth and depth of work that the 60 EIGHTEEN HOURS ON THE HILL: In Conversation with our Elected Officials By Fire Chief Ken Block, President of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs

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