Province set to make funding available for volunteer firefighter cert. training

Island firefighters had the opoprtunity to train on state-of-the-art equipment earlier this summer.

MANITOULIN—Although not all the details have been released, the province of Ontario has announced it is making funding available for fire department firefighter certification.

“I haven’t seen the funding application yet, but I know they had hoped to have this out in September,” said Mike Addison, Town of Gore Bay fire chief and fire coordinator for Manitoulin Island along with Dwayne Elliott, Assiginack fire chief. “The bottom line is that a lot of money is being provided and the qualifications will probably be based on the size of the fire department etc. But quite honestly, if we get anything, this is a help.”

Mr. Addison explained, “I was trying to make this fire certification work without funding, but anything is good.” He said the Gore Bay Volunteer Fire Department is, “in pretty good shape. We are better off than a lot of fire departments (with fire fighters up to standards of firefighter certification), but we still have work to do.”

“I’ve asked the Ontario Fire Marshal to send someone here to the Island to provide a mock certification test, to show the firefighters what they need to know to pass the test,” continued Mr. Addison. “They said this is a really good idea and they would see what they can do. We would still like to see this take place.”

Jon Pegg, chair of the Fire Marshals’ Public Fire Safety Council wrote to Ontario fire chiefs and municipal chief administration officers on August 8, “On July 1, O.Reg 343/22:Firefighter certification came into force in the province of Ontario. Following the consultation period, the Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council (FMPFSC) board of directors has been working with the Office of the Fire Marshal to understand the requirements of the certification regulation and its impact on Ontario’s fire services. Over the course of the next four to six years, departments will be required to certify their members to the level of fire protect service established by their municipality.”

Mr. Pegg explained, “It became apparent in our discussions and understanding of feedback provided throughout the regulation’s’ consultation period that municipalities were seeking financial support to assist with the requirements under O. Reg. 343/22. Some departments will require online access to training material whereas others will be required to purchase textbooks to support their members in achieving certification.”

“Today, on behalf of the FMPFSC, I am pleased to announce the creation of a $750,000 grant to support firefighter certification in Ontario,” wrote Mr. Pegg. “This grant will be provided over three years and is open to all Ontario fire departments who can demonstrate a need for educational materials to support training and certifying their members. The grant will be administered through the FMPFSC’s distribution centre with details to follow on the application process and what materials will be eligible as part of this funding.”

“The FMPFSC has worked closely with both Ministers Jones and Bartlett and the International Fire Service Training Association to provide a suite of both hard copy and online materials that will benefit the fire service in meeting the requirements of the regulation,” continued Mr. Pegg. “The board and FMPFSC is honoured to be able to provide this funding to the fire service in Ontario and will continue to look for opportunities to give back to the Ontario fire service to continue to support a fire safe Ontario.” He added the details on the grant application process will be available in the coming weeks.

At a Billings meeting last week, Councillor Bryan Barker asked, “is this funding something we can take action on?”

All Billings firefighters pre-2019 are certified to the required standards, and at this point, until further details are provided, the township will not know whether the fire department qualifies for this funding.

Mr. Elliott, co-chair of the Manitoulin fire coordinators said he had not received the funding letter news from Mr. Pegg as of last week. “There was talk of money coming out to help. It is certainly a good idea.”

“In about three-and-a-half years all firefighters will need to be certified to standard,” said Mr. Addison. “We’ve (Gore Bay) always trained to standard,” he said, noting that British Columbia also requires firefighters to train to standards on training but there is no requirement that the training be provided by an external certified examiner like Ontario does.