Recently the Ontario government passed new regulations under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997.
Changes to the Firefighter Training and Certification regulation will directly affect all firefighters, including all those in our locals.
Effective July 1, 2019, all new firefighters will be required to achieve a certification standard in order to be a firefighter. Newly hired firefighters are required to become certified within 24 months. Until then, they will work under the supervision of another certified firefighter.
The Firefighter Training and Certification regulation (Ontario Regulation 379/18) provides a list of the various mandatory certification standards. Primarily, all volunteers who perform exterior and interior attack will be required to complete the NFPA Level I and II standard. Other certification standards will be required to become an officer or perform other duties within the department.
As a result of the mandatory certification discussions, the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) is re-opening the grandfathering program for a limited time.
Firefighters who are grandfathered will not be required to complete certain new certification standards. If a firefighter has fulfilled the requirements based on education/training or by way of experience, they will receive a Letter of Compliance with the NFPA standards from the OFMEM. When compliance to the standard is based on experience, the applicant must be able to prove they have five years experience and the requisite knowledge and skills.
Departments will have until September 30, 2018 to apply to have firefighters grandfathered, before the new certification regulation comes into force. The OFMEM had previously offered the opportunity for departments to go through this process in 2013/14, but 81 departments did not participate. Now they must do this in order to prove that certain firefighters should be grandfathered.
All departments need to take advantage of this opportunity before the deadline. Local 911 is working with our stewards committees and municipalities to ensure departments take this last opportunity. The application process is tedious for departments, but it very important. Each grandfathering application must be signed by the fire chief and submitted by the department.
It is important that all volunteer firefighters take a proactive approach. Learn how your department is handling the grandfathering process and provide all required information to your department within stipulated time limits.