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News Archive

Retired Members of the OFS Personal
​ID Cards

June 7, 2021


Attention all members:


The OFS is now offering all ROFFA members their own personal OFS ID Cards.


Members can also choose to order a sew-on Flash (left sleeve-over service)and service bars.

 To request OFS Retired Member items, submit email to: 

Beau’s Brewery Donating Craft Beer to local Fire Fighters

June 3, 2021


(JUNE 3, 2021 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) Eastern Ontario craft brewery Beau’s has partnered with the Retired Ottawa Fire Fighters Association (ROFFA) to get a giant gift of thank-you beer to their members. ROFFA is coordinating the safe distribution of the donated beer, along with a customized card thanking each member for the gift of their time.


In addition to being a retiree hub with a highly informative website for its members, ROFFA members are also active in many charitable events in and around Ottawa. Their membership encompasses over 1,000 retired fire fighters.


The connection between Beau’s and ROFFA was serendipitous. Beau’s CEO Steve Beauchesne contacted the founders of LOVE 613, Catherine Landry and Sharon Bosley House, in April to see how Beau’s might get involved with their start-up charitable project of volunteers gifting frontline workers with locally made treats. The conversations led Beau’s to retired firefighter Bob Larochelle, ROFFA’s current Vice-President, who was quick to rally with a COVID-safe plan to receive the beer donation and get it distributed.


Says Larochelle: “The members of the Retired Ottawa Firefighters Association are extremely grateful for Beau’s generosity. We have taken this opportunity to recognize our members, who over the years, have donated their time and effort towards many different charities, fundraising efforts and community events including but not limited to; Muscular Dystrophy, Hockey for Little Hearts, Ottawa Homeless Youth Meals, the Barry Quinn Memorial Ball Tournament, Quest For Cure, Help Santa Clause Toy Parade, Santa’s Parade of Lights, Christmas Kettle campaign, the Emergency Disaster Canteen Truck, Bytown Fire Brigade, Ottawa Fire Services Band, Ottawa Firefighters Community Foundation, the ROFFA COVID-19 Emergency Response Team, the Ottawa Fire Critical Incident Team, the OFS Peer Support Team and many more.”


Larochelle adds: “These members have all helped make a difference in the life of others in one way or another, and all this on their own time. Firefighters are known for their good deeds and helping people and it does not stop at retirement. ROFFA has a very engaged membership. Our members are proud to have had the opportunity to serve and protect the residents of this great city and continue to do so.”


Beau’s CEO Steve Beauchesne is delighted to have found a new and timely way to say thanks to Ottawa’s many groups of first responders. “We have the utmost respect and gratitude for fire fighters, and the best way we know how to say thank you at Beau’s is with a tasty, cold beer. This donation reflects the feelings of the whole community towards active / retired fire fighters, who are selfless with their time and dedication.”


Beau’s has also donated beer this year to frontline workers at Hôpital Montfort in Ottawa, and the Cornwall Community Hospital, and is gearing up for a donation in June to the 2,250 employees of Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital. Donations of hand sanitizer, which Beau’s began making in 2020 through a partnership with Ottawa’s Dunrobin Distilleries, have been gratefully received by more than two dozen charities and not for profits during the pandemic.


Beau’s Brewing Co. is a family run, employee owned Canadian brewery. Beau’s uses green electricity to brew its award-winning flagship Lug Tread lagered ale, its certified organic & carbon neutral Local Organic ale, and its fine portfolio of other year-round and seasonal beers. As Canada’s very first Certified B-Corporation brewery, Beau’s meets very high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability – learn more at Founded in 2006 by father and son Tim and Steve Beauchesne, Beau’s is located in Vankleek Hill, Ontario. Beau’s has earned more than 125 awards for brewing, packaging design and business practices


For more information about Beau’s or to request an interview, please contact Jen Beauchesne, Beau’s Brewing 
613 307-0066


The Retired Ottawa Firefighters Association (ROFFA) is a fraternity organization which was founded in 2009. It is comprised of more than 1,000 retired City of Ottawa Professional Firefighters.

President: Neil Warren, Vice-President: Bob Larochelle


New replacement granite sign installed after falling down to the ground and shattered last year

Sunday, May 31, 2021


From OFFCF Director Brian Conway


The Ottawa Fire Fighters Community Foundation has learned that we can't take our large Monument sign for granite.


One early morning in May, 2020 the grounds-keeping staff at Ottawa city hall called to report that our big granite sign (6' X 10') had fallen off the wall of the Fire Fighter Monument.


We couldn't imagine how this could happen and suspected that perhaps vandals had tampered with it. So we asked the city to check their security cameras. Sure enough the cameras had caught the action - at precisely 8:06 a.m. Turns out the video didn't show vandals at all. It simply showed the sign lazily sliding off its mountings (almost like slow motion) and crashing to the ground, where it lay shattered.


Our supplier from the Toronto area was truly amazed (and somewhat embarrassed) that the mounting brackets had failed. So they agreed to pay for its replacement by a local supplier - Grace Monuments of Carp.


Grace took the original specifications, ordered a large new slab of granite from India and designed a better mounting system. After many months, the granite arrived and was engraved to our specs.


On May 29, 2021 a skilled crew from Grace Monuments successfully installed the new sign, in all its glory. We very much hope it will decide to stay at home on the monument wall for decades and decades to come.


-Brian Conway


Beers for Volunteers

May 22, 2021


The Retired Ottawa Firefighters Association in collaboration with Beau’s Brewery  would like to take this opportunity to recognize our amazing members who over the years, have helped in different ways make a difference in the life of others.


Beau’s Brewery has donated to ROFFA hundreds of cases of 24 “Big Boys Cans” of their fine crafted beer and we thought that this would be a perfect occasion for us to show our appreciation for the dedication of so many great people within our organization.


What a perfect timing to do this also, especially when we are slowly coming out of this long painful lockdown while we’ll soon be able to enjoy a nice cold beer with some of our friends and family.


In order to make sure that we don’t inadvertently miss anyone, we would like to ask each of you if you could please send us  your nominations of  all the volunteers that you know who deserves recognition. 


We are looking for those members from the OFS and  the former silos who have volunteered their time over the years with the following:

  • Salvation Army Canteen Truck,  

  • Christmas Kettle Bell, the Christmas parades

  • The Ottawa Firefighters Community Foundation,

  • The Dinner/Dance Committee,

  • Muscular Dystrophy

  • ROFFA Founders and subsequent Executive Board members

  • Critical Incident Team

  • Frontline Financial employees

  • Covid-19 Emergency Response Team

  • Quest for cure

  • Etc

In the coming week, we will gather the information received, contact all the nominees and make arrangements for them to claim their gift at different pick up points to be determined throughout the city.


Kindly forward us the names, contact information and a brief description of their good deed by simply replying to this email at your earlies convenience.


Fraternally yours,

Bob Larochelle


Vice-President and Website Managing Editor

Retired Ottawa Fire Fighters Association

Message From Firefighter Scott Patey Who Also Sits On The OFRF Board Of Directors

April 29, 2021


Dear ROFFA members,

The Ottawa First Responder Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to augmenting the services and support provided to the Ottawa First Responder Family. With this mission in mind the Foundation has made funding available to support Ottawa’s fire, police and paramedic services members, veterans, retirees and their family members on their journey towards improving their mental wellness. This limited discretionary funding is being made available to individuals that need financial assistance and whose benefits may have been exhausted or not covered by your health care plans.


We would like to advise you that an application process is available to support these requests for funding assistance. Details and applications are available on our website at:  

You shall be asked to answer several basic questions to confirm the application. Personal information be kept confidential and will not be shared outside of the review committee. The Foundation at this time has limited funding, applications are reviewed monthly. Direct payment arrangements with the treating clinician will be made for the approved applications.

The Foundation is willing to consider funding support for many programs including those offered by registered professionals in a one-on-one or group format. We are also not seeking to limit funding to just clinical-type settings. We would rather remain open to consider other avenues towards wellness including those not traditionally covered by most service providers.

For any further details on the Foundation or its programs please visit our website at; or contact me directly at 613-882-8812.

Stay well. 

Scott Patey

Ottawa First Responders Foundation.


Screen Shot 2021-06-02 at 10.08.19

Remembering Walter Gretzky

Friday March 5, 2021


ROFFA members will fondly remember Walter when he attended the September 2013 OFFCF Dinner Dance where he kindly donated two autographed pictures, one of his son Wayne and another one of the Gretzky family homestead near Brantford. Walter participated in the auction and helped raise more than $1,600 for the two photos.  He graciously took pictures with many of the attendees and he truly was the star of the night. The next day, he attended our Firefighters Memorial Ceremony.


Walter and ROFFA member Charlie Henry were the best of friends, In late September 2013, Charlie and Walter travelled parts of Europe together and later joined a group of ROFFA members  for a few days at a hotel in Rome where we were spending time before heading out on a Greek Islands Cruise. Many will remember our amazing tour of the Vatican with Walter and Charlie.


Walter was an extremely generous and humble person who participated in countless charity events. He just loved being with people. He genuinely enjoyed signing autographs on his little note pads which he always carried with him.


I had the pleasure of visiting Walter several times at his home in Brantford with Charlie over the  years. A few years ago. I also had the honour of reading a special birthday message written by Walter to his best friend Charlie at his 75th birthday party when Walter was unable to attend in person.


Walter Gretzky died last night at age 82.


Our deepest condolences to the Gretzky family and Walter’s best friend Charlie Henry.

Bob Larochelle

ROFFA Vice-President



A letter from members of Toronto Professional Firefighters Association (TPFFA)


Dear Brothers & Sisters,

The Phoenix Group is a substance abuse recovery group exclusively for Fire Fighters and other First Responders. We would like to extend an invitation to any Fire Fighter who is interested in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse, to join our regular Wednesday evening meetings. If you are struggling with alcohol and/or drug abuse, there is a solution – You are not alone.

The Phoenix Group began two years ago as a group of Toronto Firefighters meeting to share their journey of recovery. Since that time, we have grown to welcome other Fire Fighters and emergency service personnel, active and retired, from around the GTA and beyond.

Our group is primarily focused on the twelve-step recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous, but we welcome anyone interested in recovery, who may follow a different path. While the Phoenix Group aligns itself with the AA recovery program, we are a private meeting for First Responders only. We recognize that protecting the anonymity of First Responders, working in the public eye, has special importance. We also understand the special pressures, and stress that we all face as First Responders.

We meet on Wednesday nights, at 8:00 pm via Zoom:

Meeting ID: 918 4698 9450

Passcode: TFS12step

During non-pandemic times, we also meet face-to-face, on the first Wednesday of each month, at the Toronto Professional Fire Fighter Assn. union hall - 14 Cosentino Dr., Toronto, ON (Midland & Progress Ave.). Though we grew out of the TPFFA, the Phoenix Group is independent. We are run by First Responders, for First Responders and there are no dues or fees.

If you have any questions please contact us at

Yours truly,

John K.

Message from Ottawa Police member, Pat Alden. Pat oversees the Ottawa Chapter of “Rolling Barrage” which is a cross country motorcycle event. He is looking after the ride from Ottawa to Kingston this Sunday, August 9th

August 03, 2020

My name is Pat Alden and I am the Ottawa Organizer for The Rolling Barrage. This initiative is particularly important to me because of my connection with those affected and have seen what can happen. I am inviting your organization to attend the Ottawa event on 8 and 9 August. The ride will go from Ottawa to Kingston on the afternoon of the 9th of August, this may interest your members. We will be doing speeches at the firefighters memorial in Ottawa. We have invited the OFS Chief and would also like to invite you to say some words about PTSD and mental health in the Fire services.. I played hockey with OFS east div for 2 years and am aware you have the same issues as the rest of the emergency services and the military.

The Rolling Barrage is a coast to coast Motorcycle ride that raises awareness and moneys for Military, and first responders with PTSD and other mental health issues. We are a registered non for Profit Organization. 2020 marks our fourth annual ride. This year the stop in Ottawa which we call Operation Resilient Maple will honour and recognise First responders and Military members who have committed suicide. The ride will arrive in Ottawa on Saturday the 8th of August 2020 at approximately 430pm from Hwy 417 west bound and stopping overnight in the area of Huntclub Dr and Uplands Dr.(The Hampton Inn).

There will be a meet and greet event held at the Royal Oak (huntclub and Uplands) at 7pm on the 8th of August.

On the Sunday morning the 9th of August 2020 we will ride to the Cartier Square Drill Hall for 830 am where we will then make on way on foot to the Firefighters memorial on the grounds of City Hall. After this we will move to the Police memorial behind Parliament Hill for before the ride departs Ottawa for the next leg of the Ride going to Kingston about 1pm. Both the chief’s offices of the Ottawa Police and Ottawa Fire have been invited to speak. Members of Parliament and City Hall have also been invited.

Originally, we had about 12 riders planning on doing the full pull (the ride from the east to the west coast) and a large number of riders doing 4-6 day portions of the ride. What we are doing now is not what we planned for back in January. With the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic we realized our plans had to change. We have been doing background planning for the possibility of the event being able to take place.  Now that we are in phase 3 in Ontario we have a plan. That being said the Rolling Barrage will look very different from years past. At our National Executive level it was decided that this initiative is too important to allow it to drop off the calendar.  In Ottawa there is no Ceremonial Guard or an event on Parliament Hill as we did last year.


The Rolling Barrage will leave from Halifax on August 3th going across Canada to the finish in Kelowna BC on the 21st of August. So you are aware, TRB will be respecting National, Provincial and Municipal recommendations and regulations. The ride will be held on the originally planned dates, however there will be bubbles. The Maritimes will not cross into Quebec, and end their portion of the ride at the border of Quebec and New Brunswick.   The Quebec portion of the ride will leave from the New Brunswick border cross the province and come to Ontario. Ontario portion will start in Ottawa and move through the province. The stop in London Ontario is now being replaced with a stop in Petawawa before moving west and stopping in Thunder Bay. Manitoba will ride across their province stopping before the Saskatchewan border. Saskatchewan to British Columbia will be there own bubble.

The Goal of the ride is to bring awareness to the Canadian people of the trials our Military members and First Responders face daily. These demographics have much higher rates of PTSD and other mental health issues than the rest of Canadian society.


The Rolling Barrage has a Facebook page (@therollingbarrage)  and a web page  (


Myself and my team are available to answer questions that you may have in person, by email or phone call.


Pat Alden


Ottawa Firefighters Cancer Support Fund to help ROFFA member Martin Michels

July 10, 2020

Brother Martin Michels has been battling Pancreatic cancer for over two years now. Following a partial remission, Martin’s cancer has recently come back with a vengeance and he is now fighting for his life.


Since Martin’s cancer has now not been responding well to the OHIP approved and funded chemotherapy treatment, his doctor’s recommendation was to get him on this different chemotherapy treatment which isHealth Canada approved but unfortunately not funded by OHIP.


This is the only option he has right now and he needs to be on this treatment in order to stay alive and hopefully have a positive outcome in the end.


The total by-weekly cost of this treatment is close to $5,000. The drug manufacturer has agreed to give him a 25% discount which still leaves him with an expense of  $3,689.59 every two weeks. The Ottawa Hospital hasgiven him a one month supply free of charge which lasted him until last month.


After turning 65,  the Ontario Medical Plan (OHIP) takes over from the private medical coverage (through the employer) with fewer medications and treatments being funded.


It should be noted that not all cancers which Ontario Firefighters are stricken with are covered by WSIB. Pancreatic cancer as an example, is not a presumptive cancer. 


Several Ottawa Firefighters have been afflicted by Pancreatic cancer amongst other cancers which are not included in the presumptive legislation. Our hope is that we can raise sufficient funds to assist not only Martin, but possibly other Firefighters in the future by making this a permanent fund.


Brother Rick Cheslock who spearheaded this initiative, has created a GoFundMe page where you can easily make a donation and help save Martin’s life. Simply click in this link:


Our President Neil Warren also had a trust account set up at Frontline Financial Credit Union for those who prefer to just get money transferred directly from their account.


This is a time where we all have to come together and help a brother in need.  


Any excess money would stay in the fund to help others in the future as needed.


Please donate what you can.

Firefighters and friends hang up their helmets after 37 years

June 01, 2020

Special Message From Dave Smith, OFFCF Fundraising Chairman

June 01, 2020

As Fundraising Chair for the Ottawa Fire Fighters Community Foundation, I am responsible for identifying funding sources and soliciting the operating budget that allows us to maintain and constantly upgrade our Memorial Site as well as conducting an honourable and respectful Annual Memorial Service.


Like all charitable organizations we must compete for funding.  This has become especially difficult during this current pandemic.  In the past, we have been able to avoid direct requests for operating capital by holding fundraising events throughout the year.  Unfortunately, like all large gatherings, Covid-19 has also put our events on hold. Read More > 

David Smith, Retired Deputy Chief's Interview on 1310

June 01, 2020

Click on the link below to listen to the audio interview.

COVID-19 ROFFA Emergency Assistance

March 28, 2020

We would like to begin by expressing our gratitude to all our amazing members who have been sending in a steady flow of email responses following our appeal for help during this growing pandemic crisis. We are currently gathering a data base of volunteers in different capacity categories and we continue to encourage those who are in a position to help to join our group of volunteers to please contact us.

Yesterday , I reached out to our Friends and Partners at Firehouse Subs to see if they could join our efforts to help our active and retired firefighters families in time of need.  I went through the details of our Covid-19 ROFFA Emergency Assistance Plan with Ottawa franchise owner Phil Patel who immediately told me that he was on board with us. With the support of our members who have so far offereded to volunteer help with this kind of effort and hopefully many more to come, this will be another way to do something great in order for us to help our members in need.

I am proud to announce that in cooperation with Firehouse Subs Restaurants from both Ottawa locations, (41 Marketplace Ave in Barrhaven and 2014 Ogilvie Rd in Gloucester), ROFFA is now able to offer FREE of charge Boxed Lunches ( sandwiches Cookies, pickle spears and canned Coke soft drinks)  to both active and retired firefighters families who are unable to leave their homes due to being quarantined or in mandatory self-isolation. Additionally, fire station crews who are selflessly working to keep everyone else safe in the city during this unprecedented crisis and need to be fed because they were too busy to cook their own meals, Firehouse Subs Ottawa will be there for them also.

The plan is to get FREE food to those in need using some of our ROFFA volunteers to pick up and deliver.

If you fall within that category, live within a reasonable distance from these two restaurants, simply reach out to us and we'll make it happen for you. We are just asking that you please try to give us as much notice as possible in order for us enough time to coordinate the deliveries with our volunteers.. Firehouse Subs have agreed to deliver to the fire stations themselves on shorter notices if needed.


I would like to ask all volunteers who live in close proximities to these two restaurants and can help with this service to please let me know.  Following proper hygiene and personal protection protocols including social distancing is of upmost importance for all involved in order for everyone to stay safe.

Both Firehouse Subs location are currently open for take-out service only,  between 11am and 8pm, 7 days a week.  I would like to ask everyone else who are mobile to please encourage them and to buy a meal from their take-out service. If you have not tried them yet, you will be impressed. If you mention that you are a retired or active firefighter, you will receive a free soft drink.

I urge all those who have not signed up yet and are able to help in any capacity (including joining the list of volunteers for the OFS Emergency Contingency Plan), to please sign up as volunteers as we could possibly need many more depending on how bad the pandemic wave hits Ottawa. 


Now is the time our ROFFA Family to all join together and make good things happen. That is what Firefighters are all about!

Please take care of yourselves and stay safe everyone,


Bob Larochelle


Vice-President and

Website Managing Editor

Retired Ottawa Fire Fighters Association

Covid-19 Emergency Preparedness and ROFFA Members stepping up to help

March 26, 2020



It has been an extraordinary two weeks ever since the Canadian Prime Minister warned all Canadians from abroad to return home “now” and with the ever-changing reality of how Covid-19 has brought unprecedented disruptions to our daily lives. We are suddenly finding  ourselves in a world full of closures of pretty well everything except essential services, people working from home, record unemployment rates, imposed self-isolation for many and social distancing for everyone else. Our lives have literally been turned upside down and no one knows exactly how long it will be before life goes back to normal.


With news reports going around everywhere about Retired Frontline Workers being called back to help, there has been many questions floating around and discussions between our members on where and if our retired members fit in the OFS Emergency Preparedness Contingency Plan. As we can clearly see from what’s happening around the world right now, the rampant Covid-19 Pandemic is requiring extraordinary measures during extraordinary times.


This past Monday, we reached out the Fire Chief Ayotte to discuss this matter and we wanted to let him know that ROFFA could be there to help if needed. Chief Ayotte was very grateful for the offer and he mentioned that retired members were in fact included in the Emergency Contingency plan but down the list after all other reasonable options would be exhausted. Nevertheless, he suggested that it might be a good idea that we get the message out to our members and put together a database of potential volunteers.


Yesterday, the ROFFA Board of Directors and three of our Past Presidents held an online video conference to discuss this matter and several different options on what we can do as an Association of Retired Firefighters with such great resources, to help in this time of crisis. We are clearly aware that the a large majority of our members are in the higher risk group associated with more serious illness or death if infected by the virus, but still, we concluded that there are still many different ways that we could step up and  help with a limited amount of exposure.


Following our conference, we submitted a summary of our discussion and ideas to John Sobey, President of the OPFFA local 162 and Fire Chief, Kim Ayotte Ayotte for their review. Our report was well received and they are both appreciative of such an offer of support coming from the retirees.


In these unprecedented times, we are better to be prepared for the worse and hope for the best. At this time, it has been reported to us that the OFS is very well staffed with no real issues except  for 45 members currently in isolation but we know very well that the wave has not hit Ottawa yet so things could change very rapidly. You can follow the IAFF Member Covid-19 Tracking Chart where you can see for yourselves the evolving cases within all IAFF locals.


At this time, we would like to reach out to our retired members and families who might be in need of assistance now and in the weeks to come. We can offer help to  those of you who are just returning from out-of-country can’t leave your home because you are in quarantine, on self-isolation , or whether you are older or have an underlying condition, or just simply afraid of going out of your house and have no one to help you getting some groceries or anything else. There are those who simply in need to talk to someone and we can be there for those also. We welcome anyone in need to please let us know and we’ll find someone to give you some assistance.


We are calling on all our members and especially those healthy and younger ones who are able to come forward and support our efforts now or in the coming weeks or months to please send us a note either by sending an email or through our Facebook page. Please identify in what kind of capacity you think that you would be able to help. We will keep a data base of all of you who come forward and call on you if needed.


For many of you who are receiving a ROFFA News Alert for the first time today, it’s because you retired over the past while and were not in possession of your contact information until this morning.


If you know any of our retirees who are not on our email distribution list, could you please forward them this message and urge them to contact  us via email  so that they can also receive future announcements. 


We appreciate everyone’s collaboration in these most unprecedented times.


Please take care and stay safe  everyone,

Bob Larochelle


Vice-President and

Website Managing Editor

Retired Ottawa Fire Fighters Association

Firefighter Cancer News

March 02, 2020

Neil McMillan, WSIB Chairman of our IAFF local 162 just returned from a cancer fundraising event and I wanted to share with you this very important initiative that can benefit anyone of us. Thank you Neil, we appreciate everything you do for our members!


Here is the note that I received:


I am coming home from a very informative firefighter cancer symposium at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.  There, I had the opportunity to raise funds for cancer research and represent both our active and retired brothers/sisters in Ottawa on the back of my race shirt. (see below)


The Dolphin Cancer Challenge is the largest charity event that any NFL team has partnered with.  All funds raised go to the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.  It takes place at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami (where this year’s Super Bowl was held).  This year was the 10 year anniversary of this event.  It has raised $32,761,689.00 to date, and this year the event raised $4,867,506.85 from almost 4000 participants. 


The Sylvester CCC specifically invests in firefighter cancer research.  Initiatives they have studied include:

• PAH sampling through wearable sensors

• personal exposure reporting app

• PFAS in firefighters and routes of exposure

• online firefighter cancer prevention educational program

• research into fire investigator cancer risk 

• fire station design and decon

• new sampling and collection methods for heavy metal in firefighters

• female firefighter epidemiological studies

• thyroid cancer and it’s link to flame retardants

• best practices and awareness for cancer prevention & healthy lifestyle choices 


There are six different run/walk/cycle options to participate in:

5km run/walk

17 mile cycle

30 mile cycle

33 mile cycle

53 mile cycle

102 mile cycle

I would encourage anyone to take part in this positive and uplifting event which helps to fund efforts to reduce occupational firefighter cancer.  Maybe next year our ROFFA brother/sister snowbirds could have a ROFFA team which allows all cancer survivors also get enrollment in the Living Proof honorary team for the event.

Part-Time Summer Job Offer to ROFFA Members

February 28, 2020

We received the following letter:


I am the property director of a children’s' camp located on the east bank of the Rideau River north of Kemptville. Our property manager will be retiring at the end of the 2020 season. We are looking for a suitable replacement to start on May 1, 2021. It is our hope that a prospective candidate would also be available once a week during the 2020 season to train alongside the current property manager.


Our season begins on or after the long weekend in May with weekend rentals to groups that are seeking a venue that can accommodate up to 100 people and has cooking and dining facilities. There are 10 sleeping cabins, a dining hall, a recreation  building, and other buildings to accommodate nursing and administrative staff. There is a fleet of 12 canoes with the necessary accessories, housed in a new building.


There is a large swimming pool facility that operates from July 1 to the first week in September.  Camp sessions for children 6 to 15 are offered in July and August.


There is a maintenance building housing tools and equipment needed to maintain the camp. This includes lawn mowers, a 65 hp tractor, and a tractor-driven generator for emergency situations.


The camp is administered by a dedicated council of volunteers and supported by a strong group of community volunteers who are available for special events such as opening and closing the camp in the spring and fall.


I am contacting you as you might be able to identify members of your union who are retired or would be retiring in the next year and might be interested part time employment in 2021.  Interested people can contact me by email at   or by phone at 613-989-5358.


If there is some interest a detailed job description will be provided and an interview will be arranged.


Thank you.

Richard Christie, Property director

Rideau Hill Camp

3560 River Rd

Kemptville ON K0G 1J0

Message From Gerry Pedwell, President - Ontario Retired Firefighters Association;

October 27, 2019

Retired brothers and sisters,

This grant is available to the families of first responders who have died as a result of their duties on or after April 1, 2018. Please share with any family who may be eligible so they may apply if they haven’t already.

“The Memorial Grant Program for First Responders recognizes the service and sacrifice of responders in keeping Canadians safe. Through the program, families of first responders who die as a result of their duties can receive a one-time lump sum, tax-free direct maximum payment of $300,000.”


Eligibility Criteria…

·         The date of death must be on or after April 1, 2018.

·         The deceased first responder must have been employed or formally engaged to carry out the duties of a police officer, firefighter or a paramedic. This includes all volunteers, auxiliary and reservists.

·         The death of the first responder must have been attributable to, and resulting from, the performance of official duties in the following circumstances:

·         a fatal injury while actively engaged in the duties of a first responder in Canada;

·         an occupational illness primarily resulting from employment as a first responder; or

·         a psychological impairment or occupational stress injury (e.g., post-traumatic stress injuries) resulting in suicide. 

For more information follow these links

Awareness Brochure

View the presentation by Scott Marks,  Assistant to the General President for Canadian Operations IAFF (11 minutes duration)



Gerry Pedwell



Ontario Retired Fire Fighters Association

19 Shannon Ct., Whitby, ON. L1N6B6


Awards presented at the May 28th OPFFA Reunion Dinner. Congratulations to all!

June 04, 2019

The Wayne Sabourin Award  (Tony Wu & Jeremy Flinter)

This Award is given annually to a member or members of the Association who show dedication, devotion, and professionalism to our department and community. This year’s recipients have been donating their off duty time to charities since being hired in 2009. They have attended 100’s of events through the years representing the Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters Association and raising thousands of dollars for charity. They are very reliable and likeable to the point of charities requesting them by name. They are true ambassadors for the Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters Association and Ottawa Fire Services. Since they are the only members who sign up for events with a single e-mail speaking for both of them, it’s only fitting that they receive this award together. The 2019 Wayne Sabourin Award recipients are Jeremy Flinter & Tony Wu.


The St. Florian Award (Rico Cossette)

The Award shall recognize a member(s) of the Community that has distinguished themselves in assisting members of the OPFFA and in so doing, who has elevated the material, intellectual, and moral conditions of the entire labouring class.  


Rico has been a go to guy for Salvation Army / ROFFA Canteen Truck team and was an amazing ambassador for the Canteen truck, the Ottawa Fire Service and firefighting in general.    When Rico was contacted for a call out, he never said no unless he was at his Cottage. Short on CVOR certified drivers, Rico was one of the core group we called on more often then was fair, but he always greeted the calls night or day with a positive attitude and a “where are we going."   Whether it was fires, floods or tornadoes, Rico always answered the call with a smile and a giggle.   His friendship, commitment, spirit and dedication cannot be replaced and his loss has left us all with a heavy heart .We can all remember the good times we have shared with Rico.   I know I can speak for the entire Salvation Army / ROFFA Canteen Truck team when I say we have felt truly honoured to have known, worked with and been able to call Rico "FRIEND".



The Ken Currie Award (Brother Ron Kelly)

An Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters’ Association member who has gone above and beyond the normal call of assisting a brother or sister Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters’ Association Member.


Not only does Ron represent the Ottawa Fire Service as a skilled, knowledgeable and professional firefighter, he embodies all the qualities of a true friend that we all want to have.


This is evident in the care and compassion he has shown in helping Brother Steve Butcher through his wife Erica’s illness and unfortunately her passing. Ron went above and beyond in helping the family out including organizing shift coverage for Steve so he could spend his time and energy in caring for Erica and their children.


I believe for these reasons Ron is the perfect candidate for the Ken Currie award.

Roffa Receives "Sleeves Rolled-up Award" from the Salvation Army

April 29, 2019

The Salvation Army National Emergency Disaster Seminar was held here in Ottawa this week at the Delta Hotel.


During the seminar, the Retired Ottawa Firefighters Association was honoured with the sleeves rolled up award.


Accepting the award of behalf of ROFFA were ROFFA members John McCarthy and Don Smith (pictures below)


Thank you to all the ROFFA members who have generously been giving their time to helping others.


Thank you also to all members who have been helping out relentlessly during this flooding disaster currently unfolding.


You all make us very proud of being part of this great organization.

ROFFA member Wally Hall one of those affected by floods

April 25, 2019

View Original VIDEOS and Article Here


Mississippi rising: Lanark County residents scramble to save homes

People living along the Mississippi River west of Ottawa are racing against time to protect their homes from flooding as water levels continue to rise.

On Birch Point Lane, just outside Carleton Place, Ont., about a dozen homes on Mississippi Lake were already surrounded by water Tuesday as neighbours raced to fill and stack sandbags in a desperate attempt to prevent further flooding.

Hopefully we'll prevail in this, but Mother Nature is strong at the end of the day.- Gerry Townend

Gerry Townend's mother has lived in the area for 30 years. He said this is the worst flooding the family has seen since 1998. 

"It is emotional, there's no question ... hopefully we'll prevail in this, but Mother Nature is strong at the end of the day," Townend said.

FULL HOUSE! Roffa General meeting a success

March 31, 2019

Amazingly, we set another attendance record  morning with a total of 155 attendees.


We would like to give a special thanks to our keynote speaker, OPFFA WSIB Chairman Neil McMillan. Neil gave a very informative and eye opening  presentation on PTSD, Cancers and Earing Losses with relation to Firefighters. We will work on getting a videotaped version of his presentation to hopefully post on our website in the near future because we feel  that it would be beneficial to all members including those who were not in attendance.

Those who have any questions for Neil may contact him at (613) 371-0669 or email


We would like to thank all of you members who attended today and thank you also to our sponsors Allstate Insurance Kanata, Firehouse Subs, Frontline Financial and Tony Graham Automotive. 


To make the meeting even more enjoyable, our sponsors generously donated some very nice gifts for the draw at the end of the meeting; A $100.00 “The Keg” gift card from Frontline Financial, 12 subs from Firehouse Subs, 3 x $100.00 Visa cash card from Tony Graham Automotive, 2 x $50.00 restaurant gift cards from Allstate Insurance and  we also had 3 x $75.00 prizes from the proceeds of the 50/50 draw.


Thank you also to the Salvation Army and the Ballards Truck’s ROFFA Volunteers who provided all those delicious hamburgers for lunch.


We will provide you with the complete minutes of this very successful meeting in the coming days.

'Generation-long epidemic': Compensation funds running out as 9/11-related illnesses rise

March 31, 2019



As thousands diagnosed with 9/11-related illnesses, a federal fund set up to help is running out of cash.

Thomas Wilson rarely left Ground Zero in the dizzying month following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

A New York City police sergeant at the time, Wilson spent his days sifting through the tangled, charred rubble of the World Trade Centre. When night came, he slept for a few hours in one of the makeshift dormitories that sprung up around the site — a fierce sense of duty prevented him from being anywhere else.

"A job had to be done," he said. "It was the right thing to do."

Wilson counted himself lucky for escaping that day when so many others didn't. But seven years later, 9/11 caught up with him. He was diagnosed with a rare tongue, and later, skin cancer—both of which doctors said were linked to his time spent at Ground Zero.

Wilson, a father of five, was shocked but not entirely surprised. He remembered the lack of proper protective gear and the metallic odour of the toxic brew of carcinogens that hovered over what he, and other first responders, dubbed "The Pile."

"It just perforated everything," he said.

Wilson is one of more than 11,000 first responders and survivors who've been diagnosed with a 9/11-related cancer, according to the World Trade Centre Health program, part of the U.S. government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

In 2011, about 60,000 people were registered as having 9/11-related illnesses. By December 2018, that number was higher than 93,000, according to WTC Health Program.

The growing number has put crippling pressure on the September 11 Victim Compensation fund, set up by the U.S. government to provide financial aid for the sick and the families of those who've died from their illnesses.

Former NYPD sergeant Thomas Wilson was diagnosed with tongue and skin cancer related to his service at Ground Zero following Sept. 11, 2001. (Ellen Mauro/CBC News )

The fund is running out of money faster than expected and, to ration what's left, future payments are set to be cut by up to 70 per cent — a decrease that could mean undue financial stress, in addition to life-changing health challenges, for people impacted by that awful day.

"I am painfully aware of the inequity of this situation," the administrator of the fund, Rupa Bhattacharyya said in the fall. "But the stark reality of the data leaves me no choice."

Before the cuts were announced, compensation rates for people diagnosed with 9/11-related ailments ranged from $200,000 to $340,000 US, depending on the type of illness and its severity.

In order to be eligible for compensation, first responders must have been working at Ground Zero and then diagnosed with one of 65 cancers doctors in the WTC program have linked to the aftermath of 9/11.

'This is a generation-long epidemic'

Bhattacharyya's announcement prompted a group of 9/11 first responders and their families to travel to Capitol Hill earlier this month to pressure Congress for a fix.

They appeared with Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Senator and Democratic presidential candidate, as she announced a bipartisan bill that would make the fund — set to expire in 2020 — permanent.

Doing so would likely render the compensation cuts unnecessary and protect those diagnosed with 9/11-related illnesses in the future. But the bill currently does not have enough votes to pass.

"This is a no-brainer," said John Feal, a leading advocate for 9/11 first responders, whose foot was crushed by a steel beam as he removed debris from Ground Zero.

"This is an ongoing thing; this is a generation-long epidemic."

John Feal, whose foot was crushed by a steel beam while he was working at Ground Zero, stands in front of the future site of a memorial for those who've died from 9/11-related illness.  (Ellen Mauro/CBC News )

And it's only going to get worse, said doctors treating people with 9/11-related conditions.

Some doctors estimate that more people will eventually die of 9/11-related conditions than the nearly 3,000 people who died on the day itself.

Many of the cancers linked to breathing in toxic air potentially take decades to develop, meaning the scope of the crisis could grow exponentially in the coming years. 

"It's a huge problem," said Dr. Benjamin Luft, a physician at Stony Brook University Hospital who works with the WTC Health program. "Overall, the amount of suffering that occurs post-trauma far exceeds the amount of trauma that occurs at the time — even though that trauma itself was enormous."

'We're coming down hat in hand'

The dire predictions make Feal's work all the more important to him. He's organized lobbying trips to Washington every time the fund has come under threat since it was first created in 2011.

In 2015, a similar push to make it permanent was quashed by Republican lawmakers concerned over costs.

Instead, Congress gave the fund $7.3 billion US with the 2020 expiration date. Only about $2 billion US remains, with thousands of claims waiting to be processed and more people registering every day.

"We're coming down hat in hand," said Wilson. "We're begging for our brothers and sisters who are too sick to go and lobby on their own."

A firefighter walks amid rubble near the base of the destroyed World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001. (Peter Morgan/Reuters)

And with each trip, the frustration grows. Wilson, who is still an active duty police officer, said it's insulting to meet lawmakers who pay lipservice to remembering the attacks but refuse to actually take care of those who were caught in the aftermath of that day.

"If hypocrisy was a crime in Congress, I'd be locking people up," he said.

It's a sentiment echoed by fellow first responder, Charles Sullivan, a former NYPD officer. In 2015, Sullivan was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma doctors said was related to working in Lower Manhattan following the attack.

"Some people might say we're tired of hearing about 9/11, let it go," he said. "I'd love to let it go: if people weren't dying every day."

The gift that keeps on taking

It's a reality that Bridget Gormley and Robert Tilearcio Jr. know all too well. Their fathers were New York City firefighters who died prematurely after being diagnosed with 9/11-related cancers. 

Tilearcio's father travelled to Capitol Hill to lobby Congress in the years before he died of brain cancer in 2017 at age 58. Now Tilearcio Jr. goes in his place.

Bridget Gormley and Robert Tilearcio Jr. lost their fathers, who were firefighters, to 9/11-related cancer. They both work at a law firm that advocates for those living with illnesses connected to September 11. (Ellen Mauro/CBC News )

"9/11 is the gift that keeps on taking," he said. "Hopefully those angels watching over us can maybe get into the heads of the people who don't want to vote yes."

Both Tilearcio and Gormley work at law firm Barasch & McGarry, located just minutes from where the Twin Towers once stood. The firm specializes in advocating for those with 9/11-related illnesses.

"I lost my father and I'm not going to get him back," Gormley said. "I've come to terms with that, but now I feel like I'm part of something bigger than me. It's cathartic almost."

Partner Michael Barasch represented both of their fathers before they died. On 9/11, he watched from his office window as the South Tower collapsed.

"I was like a deer in highlights," he said. "We are some of the same people that you've seen in those famous photographs covered in dust and ash, running up Broadway."

Lawyer Michael Barasch watched the South Tower of the World Trade Collapse collapse from his office window. He's dedicated his career to helping those with 9/11-related illness.  (Ellen Mauro/CBC News )

Like Feal, Barasch has made many trips to Washington on his clients' behalf.

"In many cases, it's the difference between keeping your house and not keeping your house," he said of the compensation cuts. "Congress just didn't set aside enough money for all the people getting sick."

Gormley said one of the hardest parts of losing her father was thinking he survived 9/11 — that her family had dodged a terrible fate — only for that day to change his life so many years later. 

"You have survivors who are turning into victims," she said. "Everyone's looking over their shoulder wondering what's going to happen next."

Fear of the future

Rob Serra lives with that anxiety every day.

He was 21 years old on 9/11, his first day on the job as an New York firefighter. His health problems began almost immediately as he suffered with an uncontrollable nosebleed while working at Ground Zero.

Other issues followed. Nasal polyps had to be surgically removed, respiratory problems arose, and nerve damage means he sometimes relies on a wheelchair. His downward health spiral forced Serra to retire from the FDNY at just 33.

"I feel like the sand is moving a little quicker through the hourglass," he said.

Serra now spends his time advocating for the fund. Compared to those waiting for their claims to be processed or the yet-to-be diagnosed, Serra said he's lucky. He received his compensation before the cuts were announced — money to help take care of his young children now that he can no longer work.   

But it does little to ease his fear — a fear that stalks so many of 9/11's first responders — that he won't get to see his kids grow up.

"I'm hoping to see them go to high school but I don't know," he said. "I can't imagine that I got all these other illnesses so early on and I'm not going to get cancer."

2018 Report to Members and Annual Meeting

March 27, 2019

We are happy to share OMERS 2018 Report to Members.

Learn more about the progress we are making on our 2020 Strategy and how OMERS is planning for your future.


Read OMERS 2018 Report to Members.

Michael Rolland tapped to take on OMERS Sponsors Corporation CEO role on an interim basis

March 24, 2019

We are extremely pleased to announce that Michael Rolland will lead OMERS Sponsors Corporation as CEO on an interim basis. 

Known for his high level of integrity, investment track record, genuine interest in people and deep ability to create value for all stakeholders, Michael has driven success across many initiatives over his 20 years at OMERS. He has a deep and unique understanding of the mandates of both the AC and SC Boards, making him the ideal leader for the SC at this critical next stage of its evolution. 

Michael’s focus will be to help the Sponsors Corporation Board deliver on its key responsibilities related to plan design, contributions, strategy, stabilization reserves and valuation filing. 

In addition to this new role, Michael will retain his position as President and Chief Operating Officer, Asia-Pacific for OMERS – continuing to oversee and direct OMERS operations, business relationships and the growth opportunities in that region.

Michael’s transition to leadership of the SC will begin immediately, with an effective date of April 15, allowing for a smooth transition ahead of Paul Harrietha’s retirement from the SC on April 30.

It is with sincere enthusiasm and trust that we offer Michael our collective support as he embarks on this expansion of his responsibilities. OMERS is indeed fortunate to have an individual with his variety of experience and ability, and we know you will join us in congratulating Michael and extending your full support.



Frank Ramagnano and Barry Brown


Fire Fighter Quarterly Magazine

February 28, 2019

A new issue of FIRE FIGHTER QUARTERLY is online.


  • Fire fighter health and safety, including cancer and behavioural health

  • Training opportunities

  • Local stories

  • Legislative news

  • IAFF-FC programs and services

  • IAFF-MDA: 65 Years Strong

  • Much more!

Read it here.

The other battle: Firefighters work to change a culture and protect themselves from cancer-causing toxins

February 09, 2019

View Original Article

When Norm Smith looked in the mirror and saw the rash on his face, he immediately contacted his doctor.

The veteran firefighter had been in the business long enough, and seen enough friends with cancer, to know better than taking any chances.

His doctor prescribed cream to burn off what turned out to be basal cell carcinoma, a type of cancer that can typically grow on parts of your skin that get a lot of sun.

Smith applied the cream, only to have his skin turn bright red in a familiar pattern — one that perfectly traced the border of the breathing apparatus he wore while firefighting.

It spoke volumes about what long-term exposure to toxins was doing to his skin.

“It tells me that I was protecting myself (with a breathing apparatus), but something else was going on.”

Where the mask covered his face during fires, there were no basal cancer cells, but where his face was exposed, they turned bright red — graphic evidence of what years of exposure to smoke and toxic gases was doing to his body.

It didn’t surprise Smith, who talks of the smell of smoke coming from his skin for days after fires.

“You can scrub and rub all you want, but that is off-gassing of your body, getting rid of those toxins.”

Today, Smith, who is a captain at Ottawa Fire Station 56 on Coventry Road, uses a photo of his face during that treatment as part of a presentation he gives to young firefighters. Smith talks about the risk of cancer firefighters face, about getting safety right, about getting proactive medical help. He peppers the talk with jokes, but in truth it’s meant to put a scare into those joining a profession with a long history of cancer and death.

Smith thinks for a minute and comes up with 10 names of colleagues in the past 15 years who have died from cancer. Five of them were friends.

“We have always taken care of everyone else but ourselves,” he says. “We go out there and we care. We help so many people and we give so much of ourselves and I think we are just starting to look in the mirror and realize, ‘Hey, maybe we should take care of ourselves.’”

That, in part, is why Smith, 58, is devoting some of his last months on the job to changing the macho culture of firefighting and giving young firefighters a better chance.

His goal? To help change the culture of firefighting into one that embraces safety first.

The rash wasn’t the first time Smith had a warning sign about the toll that years of firefighting had taken on his health.

On what he says was a whim, he had one day decided to have his blood tested for heavy metals.

The results revealed very high rates of lead and mercury and an alphabet of other heavy metals, from aluminum to uranium.

On one hand, Smith wasn’t entirely surprised. “You come out of a fire and you blow your nose and there is black shit there; you know you have taken on some toxins.”

On the other hand, he wasn’t prepared to deal with the facts.

He put the lab report in a drawer and didn’t tell anyone about it except his doctor. “I was in denial.”


The heavy toll the job takes on firefighters has only begun to be fully understood in recent decades.

Some Ottawa firefighters who developed cancer on the job helped lead the battle to have “presumptive” legislation created in Ontario.

As a result of pressure from those and other firefighters, this province now recognizes 17 types of cancer as being job related for firefighters, meaning it is presumed they developed cancer on the job.

Groundbreaking research from the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health completed in 2015 confirmed firefighters have an increased risk of being diagnosed with and dying from cancer, something most firefighters know all too well.

More recent research, including a 2017 study done by the Ottawa Fire Service and Jennifer Keir, a graduate student at the University of Ottawa, highlighted the fact that toxins are absorbed by firefighters not just through their lungs — but through their skin.

Ottawa is ahead of many fire departments when it comes to understanding how to mitigate the threats through careful decontamination practices, but change is still slow.

And that is where Smith and other advocates in a program called From Knowledge to Practice, come in.

The Ottawa Fire Service is developing best practices for how firefighters should decontaminate themselves and their equipment after a fire. It is sharing its research and innovation with fire services around the world — including those in New York City and Boston.

“We want to be the leaders worldwide in applying the latest research to firefighting,” says Deputy Chief Sean Tracey.

What that means is treating everything touched by fire and smoke as hazardous material and taking every precaution to contain it.

“The controls we put into place are the same controls you use for a pandemic,” said Peter McBride, division chief for safety and innovation at the Ottawa Fire Service.

Under procedures being developed by Ottawa’s fire service, firefighters wash and change out of dirty bunker gear (the outerwear worn by firefighters) at the scene and put on white disposable coveralls. They place all contaminated clothing in bags and store them in the back of the fire truck before heading back to the station.

“You put on your paper mask and plastic gloves and then take your clothes off, like it was Ebola,” says McBride, who encourages firefighters to think of the residue on their clothing, equipment and skin as if it contained feces or a deadly virus.

Equipment is also washed at the scene. The fire service is in the process of getting a second set of bunker gear for firefighters so they always have a clean one while the other is being decontaminated.

The procedures mean leaving contaminants, as much as possible, at the scene.

“They don’t get into the truck anymore with dirty gear,” McBride says.

Ottawa’s procedures, he said, are being studied by fire services all over the world.

The more firefighting officials understand about the potential risks that come with the job, the more questions are raised about how best to mitigate those risks and reduce the high rates of cancer among firefighters.

That is the focus of some of the research University of Ottawa researcher Keir and the Ottawa Fire Service have underway.

They are comparing decontamination methods on firefighters using soap and water, and various wipes that are being marketed to help reduce the absorption of toxins through the skin in order to understand what works best.

Ottawa’s standards to protect firefighters also include annual facial fittings of their breathing apparatus. There was a time when firefighters took off their breathing apparatus once the active fire was controlled, notes McBride. They now know the atmosphere after the fire is controlled is more dangerous.

While contamination through breathing is now tightly controlled, there is work to be done when it comes to reducing and preventing “whole body exposure,” McBride said.

“Your skin is your biggest organ. That wasn’t well understood as a route of entry. These materials get deposited on the skin and that results in contact exposure.”

That is why Ottawa is so focused on reducing skin contamination and mitigating that risk with the goal of reducing cancer risk.

“There is really an epidemic in the fire services. Almost everyone would know someone who has had cancer.”

That is why, said McBride, “We drill it in to them.”

“The controls we put into place are all the same controls you use for a pandemic. These are toxins. Let’s deal with them in a way that you don’t get infected.”

Part of that is convincing firefighters to take hygiene and protection seriously.

Smith takes issue with romantic notions of firefighters as soot-stained heroes and encourages young firefighters to become experts in industrial hygiene instead.

Smith finishes demonstrating the slide show he gives to young firefighters and other groups.

“I always tell the guys, ‘This is for us, knuckleheads. We have got to smarten up.’”

At the end of his presentation, Smith plays a video made by Boston firefighters in which they post pictures of the members who have died of cancer — nearly 200 since 1990 — on a wall.

As the video begins to play, Smith gets up suddenly from the chair in his day room.

“I have to leave the room. This is too hard.”

Surviving member of 'Nepean cluster' says watching colleagues die changed his career in firefighting

February 09, 2019

View Original Article

Jim Andrews remembers the day his doctor phoned with the news.

He was in his mid-30s at the time, a career firefighter, married with two children. He had joined the former City of Nepean’s fire department when he was 23 years old.

Early in 2001, his wife noticed a mole on Andrews’ chest that didn’t look right. His doctor tested it, but didn’t seem too concerned.

And then Andrews got the phone call.

As he listened, he wrote the word “malignant” on the blackboard in his family’s kitchen. He heard his wife start to cry.

With his diagnosis of malignant melanoma, Andrews became one of a band of brothers within the fire department — the so-called Nepean cluster.

Five firefighters, all of whom had worked at Viewmount fire station in Nepean, were diagnosed with cancer around the same time. Two of the firefighters developed brain cancer, one had colon cancer, one had liver cancer and Andrews was diagnosed with melanoma.

People began asking what was going on.

“At the time, heart disease was the No. 1 concern (for firefighters), and we weren’t seeing that. We were seeing lots of cancers,” Andrews said.

Today, he is the only surviving member of that group of five firefighters. He was the lucky one. And the experience would help shape his career in firefighting.

Andrews saw his four colleagues die from cancer. He attended their funerals; he folded flags to present to grieving families. Every year, he marches in the memorial to local firefighters, thinking about his former colleagues, he says.

“It is to make sure that their sacrifice is remembered and the lessons learned. We need to remember that so hopefully we don’t continue to repeat these things.”

Now 52, Andrews is sector chief in charge of a part of rural Ottawa with the Ottawa Fire Service. His cancer, which was caught early with the “best possible prognosis,” has long been in remission.

His own experience and that of his colleagues has given his career a focus on preventing exposure to the dangers that can make firefighters sick.

“I wouldn’t have changed my career or anything, but you start to think ‘What could I have done to reduce my risk?’”

In the early 2000s, firefighters were becoming more aware “of the chemical soup we are stepping into in a fire,” said Andrews. Only later — with the help of firefighters across the province, including Armstrong and members of the Nepean cluster — would cancers be recognized in Ontario as work-related.

Mark Johnston, who worked alongside Andrews in the Nepean fire department, became the face of the battle to get so-called presumptive legislation in place for Ontario firefighters.

Johnston died of colon cancer in 2006, one year before Ontario changed its labour laws to make it easier for firefighters to qualify for compensation for job-related cancer and heart attacks.

Another former Viewmount firefighter, Pat Thibobeau, died of brain cancer in April 2006, the same month as Johnston.

“When you start going to more and more funerals, you start wondering what is going on,” said Andrews.

Malignant melanoma is among 17 cancers recognized as being job-related for firefighters in Ontario (based on their length of service.)

While there is better understanding of the risks firefighters face when it comes to cancer, there has never been any conclusive evidence explaining the Nepean cluster of cancer cases. An environmental assessment done at Viewmount station was inconclusive.

But it is well understood that firefighters face an increased risk of many types of cancers and there are steps that can be taken to reduce those risks.

Work done by the Ottawa Fire Service along with University of Ottawa researcher Jennifer Keir and other researchers has increased the understanding of how toxins are absorbed not only through the lungs, but through firefighters’ skin and how that risk can be mitigated.

The Ottawa Fire Services is a leader when it comes to policies aimed at protecting firefighters from the chemicals and the smoke, such as removing, washing and bagging bunker gear and equipment at the scene. Andrews makes sure people understand why mitigation is crucial, and that means not just following procedure but following it correctly.

“That is where I have invested my energy, into getting the message out and making sure people understand that, yes, what we do is dangerous, but there are things we can do to limit our exposure at the time.”

When Andrews began his career, firefighters slept with boots and pants beside their beds for speed when a call came in.

Now, research and data has shown that exposure to dirty gear is among the key dangers.

Andrews recalls a time when you could walk into a fire station and know not just that there had been a fire, but what kind of fire it was — a pot on the stove, a house fire or brush fire — just by the smell in the station because dirty equipment and clothing was brought back after a fire without cleaning. That has changed.

“You are still getting an essence at the station, but not nearly what it used to be.”

Although firefighters are still getting exposed, he says, the aim is to mitigate that exposure as much as possible.

Andrews has no regrets about his career. When asked recently whether he would do it again, knowing what he knows, he said yes “in a heartbeat.”

But when he hires new volunteer firefighters to serve in rural Ottawa, he makes sure they not only understand the risks but are able to protect themselves.

“I know what the risks are. I don’t have an excuse for not supporting them and making sure they have all of the tools at hand.”

Court Mounting; Message from OFS Protocol Officer Bob Rainboth to all retired members

September 17, 2018

To all OFS Members (active and retired),


Congratulations to all members who received awards this past Monday.  For information purposes, I am attaching a link to the Canadian Legion site which lists the names of businesses who mount medals. 


This process is called 'court mounting' and will take your medal(s) and place them on a hard board with pins for easy placement on your tunic.  Every medal issued comes with an extra piece of material which is used to make the ribbon bar (also known as undress ribbon) which can be worn on dress uniforms (shirt or tunic) in a less formal environment where full medals are not warranted.  Please refer to our SOP on Uniforms to learn more about placement of medals.




Bob Rainboth

Protocol Officer, OFS


New stamp pays tribute to firefighters

September 17, 2018

View Original Article

A familiar face has been tapped to be Ottawa’s new fire chief.

After a nationwide search for a leader to replace Chief Gerry Pingitore, who retired in April, the city settled on a candidate close to home in Kim Ayotte, Mayor Jim Watson announced at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Ayotte has been serving as interim fire chief since Pingitore’s retirement.

City council and staff greeted the announcement with a standing ovation for Ayotte, who is fluently bilingual and has nearly 30 years experience as a firefighter.

For the past 15 years, Ayotte has been a member of the Ottawa Fire Services’ management team and served as deputy chief.

Ayotte also brings an extensive list of credentials, including a masters certificate in municipal leadership and a professional designation of executive chief fire officer with the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs.

Kim Ayotte named Ottawa's new fire chief

September 01, 2018

View Original Article

A familiar face has been tapped to be Ottawa’s new fire chief.

After a nationwide search for a leader to replace Chief Gerry Pingitore, who retired in April, the city settled on a candidate close to home in Kim Ayotte, Mayor Jim Watson announced at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Ayotte has been serving as interim fire chief since Pingitore’s retirement.

City council and staff greeted the announcement with a standing ovation for Ayotte, who is fluently bilingual and has nearly 30 years experience as a firefighter.

For the past 15 years, Ayotte has been a member of the Ottawa Fire Services’ management team and served as deputy chief.

Ayotte also brings an extensive list of credentials, including a masters certificate in municipal leadership and a professional designation of executive chief fire officer with the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs.

Firefighters douse small blaze — at fire station

August 26, 2018

View Original Article

Generator outside Coventry Road station caught fire Friday afternoon

Ottawa firefighters didn't have to go far to douse a small blaze in Overbrook Friday. 

A generator outside Fire Station 56 at 275 Coventry Rd. caught fire just after 12:30 p.m.

The station is located near Vanier Parkway, across from RCGT Park baseball stadium.

No one was injured and the fire was declared under control within 20 minutes.

Responders Recount Tragedy In Toronto

July 31, 2018

View Original Article



The alarm started as quiet beeps then louder ones, a kind of staccato thump like a heartbeat through the firehall. It was a cue, for the firefighters watching Shark Week on Sunday night, to listen for dispatch. A voice came through the speakers after the alarm stopped:

“Pumper 323, respond. Medical. Crime-related. 484 Danforth.”

The four-man crew for Pumper 323, stationed a few blocks off Danforth Avenue in Toronto’s Greektown, pulled on their bunker pants. Steve Tombs, the driver, stopped at the alarm room on his way to the garage and grabbed a printout with more information from dispatch. He read it and called out to the others: “Gunshots.”

It didn’t make much sense. All four knew the address, 484 Danforth, as the fountain — the centre of a little cobblestone square surrounded by Greek restaurants and coffee shops with awnings stretching over patios. The crew go by there most days, waving at kids, to get their groceries at the two competing vegetable markets beside the square — careful not to show a preference for one over the other while in uniform. It’s a place where old men from the neighbourhood drink coffee on stone benches.

“We just thought there’s no way,” said Matthew Spagnolo, who’s been at the station off Danforth for a decade. It was more likely some kid lit off a Roman candle and spooked the crowd, he thought.

In the truck, Spagnolo and Tony Buonfiglio put on latex gloves in the back. Up front, the crew’s captain, Jim Mechano, read updates on the computer. It showed multiple people shot, possibly 10 to 15. The shooter, it said, fled west down Danforth.

They started hearing sirens, then police cruisers roaring past them on Danforth as if their fire truck was standing still.

“That’s when we all decided, ‘OK this is for real,’ ” Buonfiglio said.

At that point, Pumper 323 was the only one en route to the scene. Cpt. Mechano called into his radio:

“Dispatch another pumper.”

Two days after the shooting, Tony Buonfiglio brought his four-year-old son to the fountain.

“I just wanted to see it normal,” he said.

“Having grown up in that neighbourhood, I don’t know, I thought it might have made me feel better, being there with somebody that gives me the most incredible feeling I’ ve ever had in my life—my little guy.”

It didn’t help much. Buonfiglio, 46, responded to that call by chance. He doesn’t normally work with Pumper 323, but was filling in for one of the regulars.

He spent his childhood living just off Danforth. His mom still lives there. His aunt’s house is up the road from the fountain. Buonfiglio didn’t tell his son why they were going to the fountain or what happened there two days earlier — for the boy, it was just a walk through the square and a visit with grandma. But for Buonfiglio, looking at the square now, he was still seeing it, thinking how there were victims right here, over there.

“This one is weighing more than heavy,” he said. “It’s a stain.”

In the days after, he was watching the news, piecing it all together, realizing he was doing CPR on a young woman, with no idea that at the same time the gunman — identified as 29-year-old Faisal Hussain — was still walking down Danforth, still shooting. The wind and the sirens must have muffled the sound of gunshots three or four blocks away.

As their truck pulled up to the square, Spagnolo turned to Buonfiglio in the back seat. “We’re together,” he told him.

People were screaming, running around, some filming on their phones. One woman was looking around the square, calling out her daughter’s name over and over.

Mechano scanned around, trying to count the victims. He saw three men at the curb by the fire truck, all with gunshot wounds in their legs. But at least one civilian was helping each man. They were conscious and they had good colour in their faces and not much blood coming from their wounds. They could wait, because farther, by the west edge of the square, a woman was lying by a honey locust tree.

Mechano could see two men performing CPR on the woman. One was doing chest compressions while the other was putting pressure on the wound in her abdomen. “Once you see CPR being done on a gunshot victim,” he said, “you know the chances of survival aren’t too good.”

He told Spagnolo and Buonfiglio to go to her. Then he radioed in to dispatch.

“How many ambulances are coming?” he asked. “One.”

“Send me three more.” As Buonfiglio and Spagnolo moved across the square, a man stopped them. He said he was a doctor. He said the girl by the tree didn’t haveapulse.

When they got to her, she was unconscious. Buonfiglio and Spagnolo thanked the two men helping her.

“Did you guys see what happened?” Spagnolo asked them.

All they could say was she’d been shot several times. There was a cellphone lying beside her, ringing. They didn’t know whose it was; they assumed it was hers.

Buonfiglio started compressions while Spagnolo opened the defibrillator. Usually, to apply the defibrillator pads to the chest, they’ll use their shears to cut off the patient’s shirt first.

“But you’re out in public,” Buonfiglio said, “and there was no way I was going to take away any more of her dignity.”

Her name was Reese Fallon, they found out later. She was 18, just finished high school and headed to McMaster University in the fall to study nursing.

They managed to apply the pads without using the shears. From there, the defibrillator machine assessed the heartbeat and gave instructions on whether to give a shock or not. There needed to be a heartbeat for there to be a shock.

“No shock,” it said. So they continued with chest compressions and breaths. The phone was still ringing beside her.

They kept going — more compressions, more breaths. They’d done three rounds by the time a paramedic arrived.

Spagnolo and Buonfiglio plugged their defibrillator pads into the paramedic’s more sophisticated machine and continued.

The paramedic watched the feedback on the machine, talking on the phone to a doctor at their base hospital. The CPR wasn’t working, wasn’t bringing her back. It was up to the doctor to decide whether they kept going.

“We continue until we’re told to stop,” Buonfiglio said.

After another round of CPR, the machine still wasn’t registering a heartbeat. The phone was still buzzing.

“It was ringing and ringing and ringing and ringing,” Spagnolo said. “Vibrating, dancing on the sidewalk right off the curb.”

“Someone was looking for her,” Buonfiglio said.

“I have a daughter,” Spagnolo said. “It made what was happening there, like, too real and too relatable.”

After 10 or 12 minutes, the doctor at the hospital made the call to stop CPR. Spagnolo saw it coming. A police officer came by and asked if Spagnolo and Buonfiglio needed anything.

“Yeah,” Spagnolo said. “We need a sheet.”

“In my mind I knew we owed her the dignity.”

The two of them stood up and saw what looked like little gold thimbles, five or six of them. There was a rectangular piece of metal there too. Looking at them, they realized they’d been kneeling around bullet casings and an ammunition clip.

On Wednesday night, there was a vigil at the fountain. Hundreds of people walked from where the gunman died, near Bowden Street, down the middle of Danforth four or five blocks to the square where the shooting started. As the sun dropped down, two teenagers from the neighbourhood got up on stage and played Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Some women joined in and by the chorus it felt like the whole square was singing, hundreds of them, packed together and spilling out into the street.

The crew from Pumper 323 was there. It was their first shift back. Buonfiglio said he wanted to be there, “standing and letting people know that there are more good people than bad.”

They stood there, metres away from that honey locust tree, as people milled around the square and filed out after the vigil. Back at the firehall, the four of them sat at their long, white kitchen table and talked.

“There’s certain things that will stick in your head,” Spagnolo said. For him, and Buonfiglio, it was the cellphone ringing, with someone on the other end trying to find out if Reese Fallon was OK.

Buonfiglio face tightened, pushing back tears.

“Reese wasn’t alone,” he said.

“She wasn’t alone,” Spagnolo repeated. “She wasn’t neglected. She had every resource.”

“We care. We care, man,” Buonfiglio said. “We care.” He says it again and again, trailing off.

“That day,” he said, “Reese needed our help and unfortunately I feel like I ...”

Mechano broke in, staring across the table at him.

“You did everything you could,” he said firmly. “You did. Both of yous did. There was nothing else you could have done. So don’t dare, for one minute, think you didn’t do enough. Not for one minute.” A police officer told Spagnolo and Buonfiglio to leave their defibrillator where it was, attached to the young woman’s body. It was now a crime scene. They went back to the truck to get new gloves.

Mechano was at the truck when they got there, keeping dispatchers updated on what washappening.

Spagnolo told Mechano he could reach him on his cell, since there was so much traffic on the radio. “We’re just going to go help as many people as possible,” he said.

They heard there was somebody wounded in Christina’s, a restaurant a few doors down from the square. There was a woman, maybe in her 30s, with a gunshot wound in her hip. Another set of firefighters was already with her. When Buonfiglio and Spagnolo arrived, they helped pull her out on a stretcher and into an ambulance.

They saw Steve Tombs, the fire truck driver, on a patio nearby. He was with a man who was slumped over with a gunshot to his side. The man’s wife was there too, and a dentist who bandaged the wound. Tombs could tell the man was scared.

“Don’t worry buddy, I’m not going to leave you,” Tombs told him.

He and the dentist cleared the scattered tables and chairs from the patio to make way for a stretcher. As the ambulance arrived, a captain from one of the other fire crews walked by and Tombs could hear his radio. Someone was saying there had been another shooting west on Danforth.

“A little more of the worry set in my head, like, ‘Oh, this isn’t over yet.’ ”

Until then, the crew thought the fountain was the main scene — maybe a targeted shooting that hit a slew of innocent bystanders.

“There’s got to be someone here that was an intended target,” Spagnolo remembered thinking. “Is someone going to come back around and finish the job?”

Tombs, back together with Spagnolo and Buonfiglio, went to Alexandros, a gyros place facing the square, to check in on two young firefighters who were tending to a man who was shot in the leg.

Buonfiglio pulled off the man’s shoe and pressed on his toenail until it turned white, watching to see if the blood flowed back into the nail, as it should — “to make sure that his leg wasn’t dying in front of us,” he said. Buonfiglio gave a thumbs-up to the young firefighters.

It had been roughly half an hour since Pumper 323 arrived on scene. Police with high-powered rifles — some in street clothes, others in uniform — were running up and down Danforth now. One officer guarded every storefront.

Tombs told the other two


what he’d overheard on the radio: There was another shooting at 400 Danforth, a few blocks west. It was Caffe Demetre.

“We’re going west,” they told Mechano. “Call us if you need us.”

The three firefighters went to see if they could help. They walked in the middle of the street, alone accept for rushing police officers. There was vomit in the street. The patios were empty, with scattered purses and jackets. Tables were knocked over; others still had plates with half-eaten meals and half-drunk wine glasses. People were huddled in the restaurants, waiting for police to escort them away.

“There’s bullet holes in the bank. There’s bullet holes in Second Cup. There’s bullet holes in parked cars,” Spagnolo said.

“Apocalyptic,’” he said. “We’re going, ‘This is insane … What the hell is going on here?’”

Another crew was pulling a man out of Caffe Demetre on a stretcher when the three from Pumper 323 got there.

“Is there anything we can do?” they asked the other fire crew.

“Nope, we’re just getting this guy out of here right now.”

After the man left in an ambulance, the crew from Pumper 323 started talking with other firefighters who’d been called to the café.

“They’re kinda like, ‘Holy s--- did you hear what happened down here?’ And ‘We’re like, yeah holy s--- did you hear what happened down there?’” Spagnolo said.

“You kind of start piecing it all together.”

“You realize,” Buonfiglio said, “Oh my God, this is one big f------ scene.”

Nearby, a long line of police tape, SUVs and parked cruisers blocked off an intersection at Bowden Street. Peering over barricades, Spagnolo could make out a body beneath a green tarp, lying in front of a church on Danforth.

Officers were standing around in clumps, chatting. Spagnolo relaxed a bit, seeing guys from the Emergency Task Force idle like that. He and the two others from Pumper 323 walked back to the truck and Mechano, back again down the middle of Danforth Avenue.

“It was surreal,” Spagnolo said.

People who had been locked down in restaurants and cafés were being escorted out in single-file lines, with an armed officer at the front and another at the back.

Back at the square, the firefighters waited for clearance from police to pull their trucks out. The crews from Pumpers 322 and 324 were milling around.

“Guys,” Spagnolo said, walking up to them. “Whatever happened, the shooter’s dead.

“We think it’s over.”

Ottawa Fire Fighters Memorial Fundraising Initiative

July 27, 2018

We are pleased to inform you that we have agreed to work with the Ottawa Fire Leadership Team to develop a fundraising initiative that will afford all OFS personnel active and retired the opportunity to purchase an OFS golf shirt should you wish. The link below allows you to order the golf shirt in a variety of colours and sizes for $49.55 each plus tax with $5.00 from the sale of each shirt going towards the Ottawa Fallen Firefighters memorial fund. Ordering will be available initially for a two month period. Please note that the ordering website is password protected so you will need to enter the code OFS2018 in order to get access to order the shirts online. If you have any questions regarding sizing etc please contact the supplier directly. Please also note that these shirts do not form part of the OFS approved uniform so they are not to be worn on-duty or at official OFS functions where it is expected that personnel be in uniform.


Thanks for supporting this great fundraising event.

Volunteers Needed

July 27, 2018

Fire Prevention Canada is looking for Directors and Sponsors.


The federal government has cut funding to FPC which has impacted its ability to initiate new projects, thus the need for sponsors.


Due to either age or ill health of the remaining board members, younger directors are needed to carry on.


FPC is a national voice for fire prevention in Canada and could have a forum where fire prevention bureaus could post concerns or findings regarding fire safety and prevention. 


ROFFA member Mike Woodley is a former director, he is presently involved withfundraising efforts for FPC and he helps at the launch of Fire Prevention Week for the reading of the Governor General’s Proclamation.


If you are interested in volunteering or know of a business that would like to sponsor a worthwhile organization, please contact Mike

Santa Claus is coming back to town!!

May 29, 2018

Many of our members have had the good fortune to attend the Ottawa-Carleton Pensioners Association Christmas Party for the past several years.

Unfortunately, some untimely deaths of key members of this organization leave them unable to continue to organize this event.

ROFFA member Don Band took up the challenge and has put together a committee to ensure that this incredible event can continue with the support of ROFFA.

This event is open to all members of the OCPA, ROFFA, active members of Ottawa Fire Services as well as any of your friends who would like to take part in this wonderful pre-christmas event.

Reserve the date and order your tickets early!

December 12, 2018 at the RA Centre on Riverside Drive. Doors open at 11:00 and lunch will served at 12:30.

Tickets will be available from any members of the organizing committee or at Frontline Financial Credit Union on Richmond Road.

To order tickets or reserve a table for your group contact: Neil Warren 613 699-1242 or ... and your request for tickets will be forwarded to the closest Board Member to arrange payment and delivery.

Payment and ticket arrangements can always be made directly at Frontline Financial Credit Union .. but .. table reservations must be made by contacting Neil Warren.

Tickets must be ordered and paid for prior to the event and refunds will only be available up to December 5th, 2018.

Board Members with tickets  ($35 per ticket):

Don Band, Pierre Potvin, Neil Warren, Ed Honey, Bill Rennick, Denis St. Denis, Wib Paul

Ticket sales start June 16, 2018.

Message to All Members regarding your OMERS Pension Plan

May 22, 2018

The OMERS Sponsors Corporation is currently conducting a review of the OMERS pension

plan benefits structure with a view to ensuring that the plan remains sustainable and affordable

into the future. The “OMERS Comprehensive Plan Review” is to be completed in 2018 and the purpose, as stated by the OMERS Sponsors Corporation, is to:


  • model the Plan’s long-term financial health;

  • explore the full suite of possible risk mitigation and management strategies available to us; and

  • fully assess what members, employers and sponsors really want and need from the OMERS Plan – today and in the future.


CUPE Ontario has started a social media campaign designed to discourage the OMERS Sponsors Corporation board members from considering certain changes to the pension plan, in particular the use of conditional indexation. We believe that this campaign is premature and prefer to wait to see the outcome of the Comprehensive Plan Review before deciding if a response is required.


We ask OPFFA members not to participate in any lobby campaigns regarding the OMERS Comprehensive Plan Review at this time and to wait for further information. We are well represented on the OMERS SC  Board that is responsible for Plan Design. Frank Ramagnano, the President of the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters Association, is the Co-Chair of the OMERS SC Board and the longest serving Employee Representative. He has kept the OPFFA Board informed, we have been attending the various OMERS meetings on this matter, and our Pension Chair Chris Varcoe has been engaged.


The OPFFA has also met with the Police Association of Ontario, as we have worked quite well together on the pension file. We do not see that changing and they agree with the review of the plan to establish whether we need to reinforce the plan in order to continue to provide meaningful benefits for members for generations to come.


Under the terms of its formal mandate, the Sponsors Corporation (SC) has an obligation to regularly assess the financial health of the OMERS Plans and to propose changes as appropriate. As clearly articulated on the SC website (, the SC is “solely responsible for determining benefit levels and contribution rates for the Plans.”


The Comprehensive Plan Review is a simple manifestation of this essential mandate. Given the lingering funding challenges, the SC Board has been working over the past number of years to assess ways to manage the Plan’s future financial health – while recognizing the differing needs and expectations of various stakeholders, including members. This robust and ongoing analysis culminated in 2016 with the proposed development of Modified Inflation Indexing (MI2), an innovative approach to conditional indexing that would give the SC greater flexibility to manage future funding risks. It was a proposal that was raised by our representative. Board members wanted to view all aspects of the proposal, which resulted in the review.


In September 2017, the SC retained an independent actuarial adviser to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the OMERS Plan – using advanced systems and software applications – to model, on a stochastic basis, the projected implications of various potential plan changes under a range of evolving economic and financial circumstances. Their robust modelling clearly confirms that, given the outlined challenges, there is a strong likelihood that the cost of the existing Plan design will increase beyond current levels – and well beyond under certain scenarios. Put another way, future OMERS members could end up paying more for less if adjustments aren’t made. 


It is also important to note that changes to benefits can only be made to the service period accumulate after the change. We are getting called from members close to retirement enquiring if they need to alter their retirement date. Changes would impact them the least as they have earned all the benefits to date.


Again, it appears that the Plan, while performing well in the short term, needs to be protected against challenges that will likely occur in the future. The OPFFA does not foreclose the idea of restructuring the benefit promise in order to ensure the long-term health of the plan. We would have great difficulty, however, supporting measures that were not designed to only impact members to the degree necessary to protect the plan. Any possibility of reduction in benefit levels must be integrated into a broader strategy that ensures that benefits are returned at the earliest opportunity and a well-performing plan has, as its first priority, the repayment of benefits to those members who sacrificed in the short term. In addition, changes must be structured in a way that distributes the responsibility for protecting the plan across all sponsors, equitably.


As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me directly.


In solidarity,


Rob Hyndman


Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association

First responders turn to each other for support in suicide prevention

May 08, 2018

Original article:

Peer and family support groups for Ottawa first responders held their first suicide prevention workshop for people connected with all three emergency services.

The Monday night panel discussion was in part organized in response to a body of research that found police, firefighters and paramedics have a higher rate of suicide than the general population, according to Lorraine Downey, co-ordinator of the Ottawa Paramedic Peer Support Group.

"All of us in the first responder community have lost friends and peers to suicide and we're really trying to prevent that from moving forward," Downey said.

"We tend to be the ones to help people, we don't tend to be the ones to ask for help. So we're looking to change that stigma."

Ottawa Fire Services deputy chief Sean Tracey said peer support groups are among the best ways to reach out to first responders to get them the help they need.

"Firefighters, police officers, paramedics … that are brothers and sisters of those people on the job can provide them support, assistance, let them know they are not alone with those depressing thoughts," Tracey said.

Providing family resources

Jocelyn Bond, whose husband is a police officer, started the First Responder Family Resiliency Support Group because of her husband's experience with post-traumatic stress.

Bond said there were signs her husband wasn't well earlier but she didn't know how to identify them — such as a shorter temper and sleep deprivation.

The objective of the support group is to give family members the tools and resources to support first responders and help identify and address the symptoms of stress injuries, she said.

"I felt very alone as a spouse, I felt like I was the only one," she said. "I felt like I could go to my friends and family and tell them what was going on, [and] like they wouldn't understand the symptoms I was living with in my spouse."

"My husband did have a suicide note in his locker. Luckily, he didn't follow through on that," she said.

Dana Tapak, another member of the support group, is married to a firefighter who developed PTSD while serving with the armed forces in Rwanda.

Tapak said she and her husband talk about his calls to help process the stress. She said spouses need to be equipped with how to handle information to avoid second-hand stress.

"I like to know if he's affected by the call, but I don't need to know all of the grime and the gruesomeness," she said.

Organizers say Monday's event at Ben Franklin Place was the first of a series to cross the barriers between services and help build connections on mental health issues.

Need help? Here are some mental health resources in the National Capital Region:

  • Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)

  • Ottawa Suicide Prevention: 613-238-3311


May 03, 2018

A new ROFFA Committee on Visitation and Honour Guards is being formed to lend assistance and encouragement to Fire Fighters and their partners who need help during troubled times in their lives.


The Honour Guards are an important function of the Fire Service and many families ask for their loved ones to have this service provided.


The Fire Service is having staffing issues which makes this difficult at times. Providing an apparatus can be often difficult according to the OFS Protocol Officer. Due to this we are asking retired members to step forward and help out. We will also be contacting the Bytown Brigade to provide apparatus from time to time.


The principals of the Visitation Committee are based somewhat on those of the International Order of Oddfellows.

“It is an Oddfellow who puts another's welfare ahead of his own.’

Odd Fellowship developed ancient admonishments including:

“Visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan.”


This is just the initial foundation of what we are trying to build into ROFFA we are looking for members who are interested and members’ ideas on how to build a committee worthy of our Organizations goals.


If you have an interest please let us know.


May 03, 2018

During the last ROFFA semi-annual meeting a few weeks ago, we had a discussion with regards to the introduction of a group of volunteer honour guards for retired members wake and/or funeral when requested by the families.


We would like to create a list of those who are willing to volunteer. We understand that members might require some assistance with uniforms or maybe some other type of clothing to identify as ROFFA members and we can assist you with that.


There is already an existing program being offered for active firefighters within the city for all on duty or special occasions, but this is not be available for retired members who have passed and this is where ROFFA would like to fill the gap when requested.


We will email a short instruction sheet on what is required and supply all information via the ROFFA website regarding location, times etc.  

To this end I would require your  e-mail addresses and contact numbers to keep you informed of the progress of this committee and learn of your availability.


All those interested may contact me via email or call me directly at 613 791 4564.


Thank you in advance for your assistance.


Terry Thompson 

Dispensing Fee Cap and Diabetic Supplies old Ottawa FD

May 03, 2018

This update is for purposes of informing our retirees.


As you know, today we had a rights grievance scheduled with Arbitrator Kaplan on the Dispensing Fee Cap.  We undertook a mediation.  Mr. Kaplan accepted our facts and made it clear to the employer that estoppel applied since we knew of the practice and the employer became aware of it just prior to their applying the cap in September 2017.  With this in mind, we’ve come to an agreement that will continue the application of no cap for former Ottawa retirees (pre-2003 retirees) until June 2020, unless we get an interest arbitration decision sooner. 

We are currently review the items to bring to the Interest Board and this will fit in with our improvements to Retiree Benefits.  If the Association is unsuccessful in getting awarded a change, then the cap of $6.47 will be applied to future drug dispensations. 


With this resolved, despite the Employer declining to do so initially, the Association was successful in bringing into the agreement the application of a $200 lifetime limit on diabetic supplies for old Ottawa retirees.  We didn’t end up bringing into the argument the concept of benefits crystalizing at amalgamation, but applied the same principles of estoppel as that of the Dispensing Fee Cap.  So it was agreed that there would be no application of the $200 lifetime limit until June 2020, unless an interest Award comes down sooner.  Again, the Association has to be successful in negotiating a change to the lifetime limit on diabetic supplies or the limit will be applied on a go-forward basis.


In both cases, the Employer will make best efforts to reimburse all members in a timely fashion who had the dispensing fee cap applied and a limit on their diabetic supplies.


Good news for us.





Peter Kennedy

President, Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters’ Association

IAFF Local 162

‘A leader by example': Ottawa fire Chief Gerry Pingitore leaves service a healthier place

April 30, 2018

Original Article:


“There was a time when the fire service looked after its equipment better than they looked after its people,” he said.

Pingitore, 60, has had a long career, and is praised by many on his staff as a key player in making Ottawa’s fire service healthier to work in, both mentally and physically. This week, his staff had heavy hearts when he hung up his fire helmet for the last time. 

“Pingitore is a great chief,” said interim fire Chief Kim Ayotte. “He’s very caring and compassionate, and he often speaks from the heart. He’s a leader by example … and is respected by everyone he works with.”

Pingitore began firefighting nearly four decades ago in west Montreal, before moving to Ottawa in 1979. He spent the next 22 years climbing the ranks of the service in Barrhaven until the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton amalgamated to form the City of Ottawa, in 2001.

When the fire departments were brought together, Pingitore was appointed as one of the rural sector chiefs. He began a year as assistant deputy chief, in 2011, and was appointed one of three deputy chiefs thereafter. When his predecessor, John de Hooge, retired, he assumed the acting chief’s role.

During his nearly three-year career as chief, Pingitore said he’s fostered “a number of accomplishments,” including an increase in mental health resources for firefighters dealing with traumatic situations. 

“There was no conversation (on mental health) before. It was, ‘I’m a tough firefighter, I can take anything.’ They’d take that home with them, and if they didn’t have the support at home, that would just build and build … sometimes into PTSD,” he said. 

To decrease the stigma around mental health issues, Pingitore initiated a fire leadership team, and with professional guidance created a peer-to-peer support system that was lauded by his staff. He said it’s a way for firefighters to talk with each other if they’re feeling mentally distressed.

“We’ve found that firefighters would rather talk to other firefighters. This way they’re talking to people who are like-minded, and have experiences in similar situations,” he said.

Pingitore also drove the forefront of a more diverse service. He said it’s been a slow-moving process, but the service is changing to better reflect the community, and now has three female firefighters in a class of 24. “It’s important to reach out and get [women] thinking about what they can be,” he said. 

Through its continued participation in Pride parades, and its presence in community events, he said he hopes the service has shown itself to be an inclusive and welcoming employer.

But in the push for a progressive workplace, Pingitore said “it’s hard to build a legacy that honours the rich history of the service while also moving [Ottawa’s] organization forward.”

While he wouldn’t comment on who the new chief might be, he forecasts challenges ahead in keeping up with the service’s “ever-changing technologies,” including a brand new automatic vehicle re-routing system to be installed in fire trucks. 

He also mentioned budgetary concerns.

“All fire services are facing some more challenges with budgets,” he said, “but our mission will always continue to be to protect lives, property and the environment for the residents of the City of Ottawa.” He feels confident the service will be a solid organization with robust leaders into the future.

Now, as he’s about to step into retirement, Pingitore said it’s time to wind down from the stress of caring for a “family of 1,500 firefighters,” and focus instead on his own family – being a husband, father, and now grandfather. He joked that the hardest decision he’ll have to make is whether to go fishing in the morning or the afternoon.

Even so, Pingitore said he’ll always be thinking about the Ottawa Fire Service.

“The privilege and honour to serve you and our community will always be one of my greatest accomplishments.”

Ontario Increases Cancer Coverage for Firefighters

April 19, 2018

Original Article:


Ontario is making it easier for firefighters to get the help and care they need by extending the presumption for entitlement to benefits to cervical, ovarian and penile cancers.

By adding the three cancers to the list of cancers presumed to be related to their work, firefighters and fire investigators will have greater access to healthcare and compensation. With the expanded presumption, once a firefighter is diagnosed with cervical, ovarian or penile cancer, the claims process for WSIB benefits will be expedited, and firefighters will not be required to prove a causal link between these cancers and a workplace exposure.

Claims related to cervical, ovarian and penile cancers will be retroactive to January 1, 1960. This will apply to full-time, part-time and volunteer firefighters, firefighters employed by band councils and fire investigators.

Ontario's plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.

Quick Facts

  • In 2007, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) was amended to create a statutory presumption for firefighters and fire investigators to get compensation for heart injuries and certain cancers without having to prove they are work-related.

  • In 2014, the Ontario government amended the Firefighter Regulation under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to add six cancers to the list of diseases that are work-related: multiple myeloma, testicular, breast, prostate, lung and skin cancer.

  • This amended regulation makes Ontario among the leaders in this area and Ontario’s firefighters among the best protected in Canada.

  • There are about 450 fire departments in Ontario made up of about 11,000 full-time firefighters, 19,000 volunteer firefighters and 200 part-time firefighters. 

Additional Resources



“Firefighters are vital to keeping our communities safe from life-threatening dangers. Every day, they risk their health and their lives to protect us and our communities. In return, we must protect them. That’s why the government has made it easier for firefighters and fire investigators to qualify for workplace safety and insurance benefits.”

Kevin Flynn

Minister of Labour


“If a firefighter is diagnosed with cervical, ovarian or penile cancer, the worker’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) claim for benefits and services will be presumed to be work-related. This will give firefighters faster access to compensation and other benefits, ultimately supporting positive recovery outcomes.”

Ron Kelusky

Chief Prevention Officer

Has Stittsville outgrown its volunteer fire service?

April 19, 2018

Original Article:


2 volunteer firefighters injured Monday when flames destroyed home in rapidly growing suburb

After a fire destroyed a home and injured two firefighters in Stittsville earlier this week, some in the community are asking whether the fast-growing suburb has outgrown its volunteer fire service.

Crews were battling the two-alarm blaze at 24 Snowberry Way Monday when two volunteer firefighters fell through a collapsing floor.

One needed to be rescued from the building and was rushed to hospital, where he was put in an induced coma.

Ottawa Fire Services Chief Gerry Pingatore said Wednesday the more seriously injured firefighter was still in hospital but no longer requires tubes to breathe or eat.

Some were surprised to discover local volunteers, rather than full-time firefighters with the city's fire service, would be called in to battle such a serious blaze within Ottawa's city limits.

I certainly wouldn't want volunteer police.- John Stipetic, Stittsville resident

But the service's 2017 annual report shows that of the 1,537 active firefighters in Ottawa, 36.6 per cent — more than one-third — are volunteers. 

Only 26 of the city's 45 fire stations are staffed entirely by what the service calls "career" firefighters.

Three stations, on Iber Road and Cameron Harvey Drive in Kanata, and Charlemagne Boulevard in Orléans, are classified as "composite" stations, where volunteers are assigned to at least one vehicle.

The rest — 16 in all — are staffed entirely by volunteers. That includes Station 81, the nearest one to Monday's fire in Stittsville.

Station 81 is staffed by between 25 and 30 volunteers who are typically trained over a two-year period. In return for their service, they receive a tax benefit and are paid an hourly rate while on active duty.

When they're not at the station, they use a special pager or an app on their phones to notify dispatch whether they're available to respond.

If they don't respond, or can't leave their day jobs to help answer a call, dispatchers can call full-time firefighters at other nearby stations.

Four firefighters are needed to adequately staff each vehicle, and the station keeps three trucks.

Kim Ayotte, deputy chief of the Ottawa Fire Services, said it's an effective system.

"I can tell you that in Ottawa, it works quite well," Ayotte said.

Population explosion

Stittsville's population is currently around 34,000, a number that's expected to double within the next 20 years.

Once a rural village, Stittsville is rapidly changing, and some residents believe the area's fire service should change as well.


"Why don't they have a regular fire service here?" demanded John Stipetic, who saw the fire trucks race to nearby Snowberry Way on Monday. "We don't live in a rural area, or an isolated area where there is no other option, or this is the best choice. This is part of the City of Ottawa."

Stipetic said he only learned about the disparity a short time ago when a vehicle with a flashing green light raced past him on the road. He found out the dash-mounted strobe was issued to volunteers to use when responding to a call.

While he doesn't question the volunteers' bravery or commitment, Stipetic believes Stittsville deserves its own fully staffed fire service.

"I certainly wouldn't want volunteer police," Stipetic said.

Lower tax rate

But one of the reasons Stittsville has a volunteer fire service is that residents enjoy a lower tax rate to make up for some of the urban services they still lack, including fire.

There are currently no plans to replace the volunteers in Stittsville with career firefighters, despite the area's growth.

As far as I'm concerned, Stittsville is being fully protected.- Coun. Shad Qadri

Nor are there signs the volunteers are doing anything but an excellent job keeping the community safe.

According to the most recent audit of response times, conducted two years ago, Station 81 was one of the top-performing volunteer-staffed firehalls in the city.

The city councillor for the area, Shad Qadri, said he understands the anxiety that followed Monday's fire, but said he's pleased with the service the volunteers provide.

"As far as I'm concerned, Stittsville is being fully protected, even though parts of it are covered by the volunteer service," he said.

Stittsville's population of 34,000 is projected to more than double to 70,000 within 20 years.

Volunteer firefighter injured when floor collapses at Stittsville home

April 16, 2018

Original Article:


Two Ottawa firefighters were rushed to hospital Monday afternoon when a floor collapsed while they battled a fire in a Stittsville home.

Fire crews were called to 24 Snowberry Way around 1:20 p.m. for reports of blaze that started in an electrical panel.

Two volunteers firefighter went into the home to search for the origin on the fire when they fell through the main level floor to the basement.

One of the firefighters was able to get out on their own.

The second firefighter was unresponsive and needed to be rescued by the Rapid Intervention Team. He is now in hospital in a medically induced coma, according to Ottawa Fire Chief Gerry Pingitore.

Pingitore says the firefighter was treated by paramedics and responsive upon arrival to hospital.  

“He’s been put into an induced coma and sedated so that he can remain intubated just in case his esophagus received heated gases, at which point it may smell, he said.”

Ottawa Fire is investigating the cause of the fire. The office of the Fire Marshal has also been called in.

The couple who owns the home was able to escape the blaze on their own. 

One of the occupants of the home was treated by paramedics on scene and was not transported to hospital.

Ottawa Fire Services - BRIEFING REPORT

April 09, 2018

TOPIC: Temporary Re-Organization of FLT

PREPARED BY: Fire Chief Gerry Pingitore

As part of the transition to my retirement, please be advised that effective today April 9, 2018, Deputy Chief Kim Ayotte will be Acting Fire Chief until the national search for my replacement is completed. I will be working closely with the acting Chief until my retirement on April 30th. 

The following temporary assignments will also take effect today; 

Deputy Chief Paul Hutt is responsible for all of Operations (Urban, Rural and Special Operations) 

Deputy Chief Sean Tracey continues to be responsible for Training, Safety, Air Management, Light Rail Project, Wellness & Fitness, Mental Health and Fire Dynamics implementation 

Deputy Chief John Gillissie continues to be responsible for Fire Prevention, Communications and the New Radio system implementation 

Nathan Adams will become Acting Deputy Chief of Administration and Operational Support responsible for HR, Finance, Logistics (Fleet and Stations), Maintenance and Accommodations 


Anastasia Turner will become Acting Program Manager of Operational Support responsible for CFAI Accreditation, RMS, GIS, BSS Lead, and shift scheduling and performance measurement. 

Anastasia’s position of Analyst, Performance Measurement and Reporting will be offered on a temporary acting assignment to any of our internal administration staff that may be interested. This will go out as an expression of interest this week. 

A tribute to my brother Tim on CKCU-FM 93.1

April 06, 2018

Tim was the brother of Roffa member John McCarthty and brother in law of ROFFA member Dave Thompson.

This is a message from Joyce McPhee who will be co-hosting the radio show.  Joyce worked with Tim on Gov't contracts and was at St Joseph's high school with him.  

"Join me on Saturday, April 7 at 11:15 am for a short tribute to Tim McCarthy during the folk music show Canadian Spaces on CKCU-FM, 93.1. Tim was a graduate of St. Joseph's High School in Ottawa, who passed away on April 9, 2017. He was an amazing musician, writer and communicator who was devoted to his family and kind and generous to all. The show will be available online for a year using the CKCU On Demand feature.

A short summary of Tim's life follows:

Tim McCarthy was born in Ottawa in 1955, one of five children. He was a born entertainer who taught himself to play guitar and was a lifelong player and singer. Tim starred in many school drama productions in Ottawa including Job at St. Joseph’s High School, and Oklahoma and Brigadoon at Immaculata High School. He had a successful career in communications as a writer for print, websites and countless video productions.

But Tim was perhaps best known as a generous soul who was devoted to his family and kind to all. Tim enthusiastically supported his wife Heather who was critically ill with cancer for several years until she went into remission. He was very proud of his children Chris, Todd and Melissa, and grandchildren Addie and Elliot and spoke often of them.

Tim had a rare blood type and generously gave more than 250 blood donations; he never refused to make a donation when asked.

Sadly, Tim was diagnosed with terminal cancer in March 2017 and died in early April of the same year. Less than 10 days before he died, Tim had a farewell party for family and friends where he amazed everyone by finding the strength to sing and play guitar all night. Tim had shirts made for his band that evening that read: “Bring love. Wear joy. Choose courage. Change the world.” "

Here is a link to listen online live or after by clicking on the April 7th broadcast.

Dispatches: April 2018, Changing the conversation

April 04, 2018

Link to Original Article:


During my stint as an instructor at the Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst, one of the expectations that really impacted me was the awareness and importance of using gender neutral or gender-inclusive language in the classroom.

Once gender inclusivity is on your radar you can’t help but question many of the old-standby-but-perhaps-outdated terms we’ve come to accept as part of the fire service culture.

As a female who has been in the fire service for over 20 years, I’ve always been referred to as “one of the guys,” and never took offence to it. For me, it was more of a sign of acceptance into this unique and tight knit brotherhood, which is ironically enough, another term likely to change at some point.

In the classroom, I was infinitely aware of my use of the term “guys” when addressing the class as a whole, because it was impressed upon all of us as representatives of the province. For example, asking a question like: “How many of you guys have ever…?” We in the fire service say that all the time. It was something I often tripped over, and would almost make the situation worse, by adding a “. . . and girls” hastily afterwards, which just brought more attention to my use of terminology. And honestly, no one ever seemed offended by it, or at least, it was never brought to my attention.

But this is not to say that it’s a moot point. I whole-heartedly agree with the premise of using gender-inclusive language, as it’s simply respectful to do so, especially in the fire service where teamwork is of the utmost importance. We should be placing an emphasis on inclusivity to foster the strength of the unit.

Since I returned to my volunteer fire department in December, my fellow (there’s another term) firefighters and I have had this conversation a few times. When I was asked what alternatives to use instead of “guys,” I shared that I’d heard other instructors use, “folks,” “you people” and “class.” I’ll admit, “folks” sounds somewhat country-ish or laidback, and “you people,” depending on the tone and delivery, can come across as slightly condescending. I’m not saying I have the answers; I’m merely posing the question.

A friend in my hall, who is also an instructor at a private fire service college, said that he asks the class up front if anybody will be uncomfortable with his use of “guys,” and he says no one has taken exception to it to date.

I asked him how likely he thinks it would be that someone would feel comfortable enough to admit they were upset? People generally don’t like to be the odd one out –just food for thought.

Members in my fire department (by request of our dispatch, as I understand it) have recently transitioned from reporting the hall as “manned” to reporting it as “staffed.”

A couple of other terms from the good old days that have come up in our discussions are:

Firemen  –  This one is a pet peeve of mine and I have a beloved friend who can’t seem to stop using it after 40 years of service to our department.

Man door –  Hmmmm, maybe person door? This was one I brought up to the group.

Man down alarm – A captain in our hall questioned this one. I was actually surprised that I hadn’t thought of it. A point for you, buddy.

Brotherhood – Are we women included as sisters in the “brotherhood?” Or should we just refer to it as the “hood” now?

I’m sure there are many more outdated terms we continue to use. I invite you to tweet me or tag me on Facebook with anything you come up with.

It’s 2018 and the fire service is continuing to see a greater level of diversity among it’s ranks. This is not about giving anyone or any group special treatment, it’s simply about respect, good ethics and positive interpersonal skills.

For those of you in training roles, in officer positions, and quite frankly everyone in the fire service, when you’re addressing the group, I respectfully request that you keep in mind that your audience is no longer strictly “guys”.

With that being said, it’s not merely a male/female, man/woman dichotomy anymore. I’m sure there are transgender and gender non-binary members in our fire service as well, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that developing and using gender-inclusive language means including everyone.

The world is changing and it’s our responsibility to change with it, if not change ahead of it.

Megyn Kelly TODAY explores the emotional toll of being a firefighter

March 23, 2018

View Video Here:

Tim Aboudara, president of the Santa Rosa Fire Fighters, and Frank Leto, the deputy director of the FDNY Counseling Service Unit, discuss the impacts of on-the-job traumas experienced by firefighters.

7 truths about fire service retirement

March 03, 2018

Original Article:

Retirement from a life-long career can be a stressful event, regardless of the field. Research conducted in the military and law enforcement fields shows that retirement from a career in public safety can be more stressful than retirement from the civilian workforce.

Most firefighters I've ever had the pleasure to know have worked hard to get their first job. For many of us, that journey started in the volunteer ranks where we cut our teeth in the business.

Many others worked for two or three paid-on-call services or combed a fire department job with an EMS gig before getting that one job that paid enough to make it their sole fire service endeavor.

Then once we were in, we immersed ourselves in the fire service culture. Our fellow firefighters became our second family; truth be known, we spent more time with that family than we did with our spouses and children.


When that retirement date comes and goes, it might seem like a divorce. Suddenly, that second family will be nowhere to be found. Getting into the fire service was easy compared to what it was like to leave it.

The only other careers that parallel that of the fire service – that strong sense of camaraderie, daily exposures to the unknown, and retirement at an early age – are found in law enforcement and the military.

Here are a few things that you can expect to experience once you hang up your turnout gear for the last time.


No matter how much you complained, you will miss your fire service family within a relatively short period of time. The term divorce is an apt description, despite it being an amiable one.

When you return to your former second home, you'll likely feel that you only have visitation rights, especially when you start seeing all those new faces.


After years of living on a work cycle (mine was 24 hours on and 48 hours off), you'll find yourself needing to adjust to the world of the 40-hour work week, especially if you take on another job.

It was always much easier to shop, make doctor appointments, schedule vacations and the like when weekday hours were fully in play.


Many of my fellow retirees have remarked how busy they became after they retired. Whether it was getting to all those "honey-do" projects that you never seemed to have time for or taking care of business for family and friends, your weekly schedule can fill up in a hurry.


Choosing what to wear was a lot easier when it meant grabbing a clean uniform. Most guys don't want to admit this, but wardrobe management is not necessarily in our DNA.

If you go into another field of work after retirement that requires real clothes — not one of the 100 polo shirts you accumulated over your fire service career — you can spend more than a few minutes each day finding matching clothes. Over time that equals hours, then days, then weeks that you spend doing nothing but thinking about what shirt to wear.


A colleague, upon her retirement, said, "I'm not retiring, I'm 'refiring.'" For most of us, retiring in our mid-50s means finding a new career to help pay for those mortgages and college tuition bills that keep coming.

We're trained to be America's problem solvers, those people call when they don't know who to call. While we're on the job many firefighters and officer might gripe about some of the calls that we respond to, especially those that we felt didn't need the fire department.

But it's hard to beat the sense of satisfaction that comes after you and your crew handled the difficult fire or motor vehicle crash or complicated rescue. It's tough to find that kind of satisfaction working in the non-fire service world.


The higher the rank, the greater the sense of loss of friendships, prestige and self-esteem. In his Executive Fire Officer Program research paper "Problems and Success Factors Inherent in Fire Service Retirement," Gerald Bates wrote that he found a significant relationship between the participants' rank at the time of retirement and their perception of their personal and social relationships.

As we progress through the ranks, our circle of friends and colleagues shrinks. As officers, we learn to maintain that delicate balance between being friendly on the job with firefighters and junior officers and lapsing into friendships that can be detrimental to the good of the order. This is particularly true for men, as research has demonstrated that lasting male relationships are closely connected with their work.

Being a fire officer also means that you probably had some significant roles and responsibilities managing people, physical resources and budgets. After a career of shouldering those kinds of duties, it can be difficult to wake up one day as a team of one.

It can also be a difficult adjustment for your spouse and family as well; as my wife still tells me from time to time, "You're not the chief anymore." Reality check.


Your health and wellness moves up on your list of life's priorities. Nothing says you've moved into the second half of life's football game like retirement.

Those little nagging aches and pains take on a new significance, especially when you don't have that peer pressure to keep working through them. Think about how many retired firefighters finally get surgeries for those knee and shoulder problems that they've been putting off for years.


In his research, Bates found that 95.7 percent of his survey's participants felt that their retirement was successful.

"The primary determinant of a successful and satisfying retirement appeared to be directly related to the level of planning that went into it," he wrote. "The most satisfied retirees tended to be those who planned for their retirement several years in advance."

As firefighters, we know the value of conducting pre-plans for target hazards in our district and there's great value in applying that strategy to your second career. Consider these retirement target hazards and pre-plan accordingly.

  • Your personal characteristics.

  • Your reasons for retirement.

  • Your financial security.

  • Your level of activity in retirement.

  • Your social and personal relationships.

  • Your physical and mental health.

Everyone's responses to the above will be different, but the one key for everyone is to plan for your retirement early in your career. Begin early in your firefighting career and focus on your career expectations, long-range financial plans, and the importance of developing a career and retirement plan in general. 

Nearly half of Ontario firefighters are working with chronic pain, study finds

February 17, 2018

Original Article:

A new study co-authored by Western University and the McMaster School of Rehabilitation Science reveals that chronic pain is almost guaranteed for firefighters.

Nearly 300 firefighters from Hamilton were examined over a 13-month period.

During that time, the firefighters tracked the location and severity of any musculoskeletal problems they may have had.

Data revealed that almost half of the firefighters had problems with their arms or legs, about one in five had neck-related problems, and one in three had back pain.

READ MORE: Work long hours on the job? You’re more likely to have heart problems, study says

Joy MacDermid, a physical therapy professor at Western University, tells 980 CFPL, the research focus will shift towards prevention and treatment.

“We’re focusing on how tasks are done… to see if there are ways we could make those tasks a little bit safer,” said MacDermid.

The study adds that screening for upper-limb musculoskeletal disabilities might also help with early intervention and treatment.

Toronto firefighter located safely in California after going missing in New York Firefighter was located wearing ski gear in Calif. A Toronto firefighter who went missing in New York was found in California wearing his ski gear, union officials said.

February 13, 2018

Original Article:

A Toronto firefighter who went missing last week while skiing in Wilmington, N.Y. has been located “alive and in good health” in Sacramento, Calif., New York State Police said.

Constantinos ‘Danny’ Filippidis was reported missing after being last seen on Feb. 7 at Whiteface Mountain during an annual ski trip with seven other colleagues.

According to the president of Toronto Professional Firefighters’ Association, Frank Ramagnano, Filippidis went missing after leaving the company of one of his colleagues who was tired and wanted to take a break from skiing.


Missing Toronto firefighter Constantinos ‘Danny’ Filippidis is shown in this photo provided by New York State Police. Filippidis went missing on Wednesday while on a ski trip in Lake Placid.

The multi-agency search for the missing firefighter at one point included more than 140 forest rangers, state police officers, members of Homeland Security, area ski patrols and Toronto firefighters.

Filippidis reached out to his wife from Sacramento Tuesday afternoon, Ramagnano said.

“He had called (his wife), he had called her a nickname and she quickly recognized the voice that it was him,” he said.

“She (Filippidis’ wife) was communicating with him from the command centre and the state police were working to try and secure his safety. This was accomplished by the local authorities by making contact and confirming his identity.”

It is unclear how Filippidis was able to get from New York to California as union officials said he did not have identification on him at the time.

The firefighter was found in California still wearing his ski gear and was taken to hospital in California to be “checked out” as he appeared “dazed and confused,” Ramagano said.

“He wasn’t able to give direct answers,” he said. “Police that eventually made contact with him were concerned and brought him to get some medical attention.”

“He still had the same clothing he was skiing in and the authorities seem to think that he had been in those clothing since he’s been missing. Apparently he still had his heavy jacket, his ski pants were on and I’m told his helmet and ski goggles were with him as well.”

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg issued a statement regarding the incident after Filippidis was found.

“We are all very relieved to know that he is safe, following what has been an exhaustive search operation,” Pegg said. “Although details are limited at this time, we have been advised that he is in the care of police in Sacramento.”

“On behalf of Toronto Fire Services, I would like to thank all those who participated in the search.”

New York State Police said the circumstances regarding this case remain “under investigation and said further details will be released at a “later time.”

“There were a lot of resources that New York State put into this search and they’re going to want to make sure that nothing here was done maliciously, as they should.


They’ll do a comprehensive investigation,” Ramagnano said.

New York State Police searching for Toronto firefighter who went missing on ski trip

February 09, 2018

Original Article:

The 49-year-old Toronto firefighter was last seen by his skiing party on Wednesday afternoon after a skiing trip in Lake Placid, N.Y.

WILMINGTON, N.Y.—Police in Lake Placid, N.Y., and forest rangers continue searching Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks for a 49-year-old Toronto firefighter who was last seen by his skiing party on Wednesday afternoon.

The Olympic Regional Development Authority, which runs the Whiteface ski centre, is leading the search and a spokesperson says 35 people, along with a helicopter and search dogs, were assisting in the effort.

State Police Information Officer Jennifer Fleishman says the unidentified skier went missing about the same time as a strong snowstorm was making visibility poor.

More than a metre of snow has fallen in the last 24 hours.

Frank Ramagnano, a spokesperson for the Toronto Professional Firefighters Association, says the missing man is part of a group of off-duty and retired firefighters, friends and family making an annual ski trip.

Ramagnano told Toronto’s CITY-TV the group realized he was missing after the ski hills closed after 4 p.m. The group said his belongings were in the ski lodge and his vehicle still in the parking lot.

Going batty: An Ottawa Fire Fighter's family is living a nightmare after buying 'dream-home' farmhouse

February 09, 2018

Original Article:

When Matthew Dewan and Katrina Arcand learned that the grey farmhouse near Arcand’s childhood home was for sale, it seemed the answer to their need for more space.

They needed room for four children. The Kemptville-area farmhouse on an acre-and-a-half of land near the Rideau River had enough space for everyone and even had a separate playroom.

“I grew up as a farm girl. It  was the greatest thing. I want my children to be here,” said Arcand.

They put all their savings into the house in November 2015, moved in on Dec. 3, and started ripping out wallpaper and layers of old linoleum to expose the pine floors. It was last August 2017 when the real problem started to emerge. Bats, dozens of them, appeared to be crawling out of a space behind an unused chimney.

Intrigued, they wondered if they had a “nest” of bats behind a decommissioned chimney. Closer inspection revealed a mound of bat excrement, known as guano. They removed the chimney, but the number of bats emerging from the fascia, the vents and the siding seemed to grow. Watching the bats emerge and fly on summer nights was like watching a movie, said Arcand.

“We counted 63 one night.” 

Dewan, an Ottawa firefighter, and Arcand, a homemaker, needed professional help. It turns out, the bats they could see were only the tip of the iceberg. There was bat guano in the attic and it was piled 1.5 metres deep inside the walls of the old balloon-framed house.

“We thought it was just old-house smell. It turns out it was bat guano,” said Arcand.

The house was inspected when they bought it. But the attic, accessible only through a small door, had been sealed. Their insurance company said they weren’t covered for bat damage. (Most insurance policies have wording that excludes settlements for damage caused by animals, including birds, raccoons, insects, rodents and bats, said Pete Karageorgos, the director of consumer and industry relations with the Insurance Bureau of Canada.)

Stephane Boucher, the owner of Canadian Pest Control Service in Perth, looked into the problem, cutting a hole though the ceiling to access the attic.  He believes there are two bat species in the attic colony — little brown bats and big brown bats.

Boucher worked in animal control for 23 years and says this case was one of his “top five” bat cases in recent years. “Obviously, the bats had been there for decades. You just know when they’ve been there for s long time. The bats have been there for so long that the guano has seeped into the wood. It attracts more bats. The bats know there’s a roost there.”

Some species of bats are protected animals in Ontario and can’t be killed. So, evicting bats means sealing every hole, leaving a few exits with one-way doors, a process known as “excluding.”  Once the bats leave, they can’t get back in, although they may simply move to a nearby barn or another attic. 

The cost to merely exclude the bats from their attic? Best-case scenario is $15,000, said Dewan.  “And they’ll be back, even if we seal up every crack and hole.” 

It would cost thousands more to remove the guano from the attic and between the walls. The guano had done permanent damage to the wood, and the couple fears the ceiling will eventually collapse under the weight of guano. There is seepage in some spots of the second-floor ceiling, he said. 

Even if they did manage to exclude the bats, it would be hard to make the house bat-proof because the old structure is so porous. The old tin roof has hundreds of crevices the bats could use as entry and exit points. And bats will return to their roost and try, very determinedly, to get back in to their home roost. Bats can squeeze themselves — their bone structure is very pliable — into a hole the size of a fingertip.

The news on other options was just as bad. It would be impossible to tear the house down to the frame, remove the guano, then rebuild the house using the original frame because that wouldn’t meet building code. Besides, exposure to bat guano means a risk of histoplasmosis, an infection caused by a fungus found in the droppings of birds and bats.

“Every once in a while, we would get a glimmer of hope,” said Dewan. “Then, any time we think something great was going to happen … no. It’s just one thing after another.”

The only viable option is to demolish the house and start from scratch, say Dewan and Arcand. But the estimate for rebuilding a house of the same size is $475,000, plus taxes. Dewan and Arcand would be left with their original mortgage, plus the cost of building a new house. Earlier this week, Arcand’s sister, Kristel, posted a GoFundMe page for the rebuild, which attracted more than $1,400 in donations by Wednesday afternoon. 

“The bottom line is that we’ve bought a house that’s worth nothing,” said Dewan, who jokes that the only solution is to win a lottery. “We’re in a lose-lose situation.”

Many conservationists believe that it’s not just possible, but necessary for humans to co-exist with bats, which perform an invaluable ecological service in consuming insects, including agricultural pests. Bats living in an attic can be “excluded” to a limited area, making it possible to collect the guano in one spot, where it can be easily removed. 

It’s common for people to have bats and not even know it, said Brock Fenton, a bat biologist at Western University who has studied the winged mammals for more than 50 years.

He doesn’t think it’s necessary for Arcand and Dewan to demolish their house because it’s home to a colony of bats. Unlike rodents, bats don’t chew or make holes, and they don’t cause damage. Guano, he points out, is an excellent fertilizer. 

“I would just fix it so they can’t get in so easily, and say, ‘Thank goodness they’re eating all those bugs.’ ”

Arcand and Dewan have learned a lot about bats in past few months. “They’re amazing creatures. Really, we’re squatting on their place.” said Dewan.

“I didn’t know anything about bats before,” said Arcand. “Not that I like them now, but they’re fascinating creatures.”

Bat facts

• There are eight species of bats found in Ontario, but only little brown bats and big brown bats are commonly found in human-made structures like attics. Little brown bats, whose population has been decimated by a disease called white-nose syndrome, are considered endangered in Ontario, while big brown bats are not.

• A mother little brown bat consumes up to twice her own body weight in insects to provide milk for her baby, or “pup.” A colony of 300 bats will consume three kilograms of insects a night. 

•  The little brown bat has one pup a year, with the baby weighing 25 to 30 per cent of the weight of its mother. A mother bat can fly with her pup, with the pup clinging to her with its teeth and claws. 

• Bats can fly up to 35 km/h.

New fire stations in Orleans and Cumberland begin operations today

February 06, 2018

Original Article:


The City of Ottawa opened two new fire stations today to better meet the fire and emergency protection needs in Cumberland and Beacon Hill.

The stations are the result of the City of Ottawa’s fire station location study in 2015. A key recommendation from this study was to close two stations in Beacon Hill and replace them with the two new stations opening today.

Station No. 36, at 1935 Cyrville Road replaces the old No. 36 on Industrial Avenue. It was built on a budget of $7.14 million.

Station No. 55, at 2283 Portobello Avenue, replaces the old No. 55 on Blair Road. It was built on a budget of $7 million.

Key Facts

  • Each station is equipped with a pumper truck and 16 personnel.

  • Construction of both buildings began in April 2017.

  • The new facilities were designed by Hobin Architecture Inc. and built by Morley Hoppner Limited.


“The fire station consolidation reflects the ability of Ottawa Fire Stations to adapt to the changing demographics and growth in Ottawa. These new stations enhance the service’s current ability to meet its response standards today and create a sustainable deployment model that will meet the needs of our communities for years to come.”

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson

“Fire stations are more than just bricks and mortar. They are integral parts of their communities. As communities grow and evolve, so must the approach Ottawa Fire Services takes to its response times.”

Councillor Diane Deans, Chair of the City’s Community and Protective Services Committee

“Having a new station like this in the heart of the community is a welcome addition to the surrounding neighbourhoods and will surely bring peace of mind to all Cumberland residents.”

Councillor Stephen Blais, Cumberland Ward

“From the new fire station on Cyrville Road,

I know that our Ward will continue to receive exceptional service from this new location on Cyrville Road. Trucks will especially be able to enter the Pineview community more easily and efficiently.”

Councillor Tim Tierney, Beacon Hill-Cyrville Ward

“Ottawa Fire Services is pleased to have the new Station 36 and Station 55 open today. These stations will ensure our Service provides the appropriate resources to meet the needs of our communities and remains aligned with international best practice.”

Gerry Pingitore, Fire Chief

Firefighter moonlights as goalie for Canadiens

January 10, 2018

The story of how an Ottawa firefighter ended up on the ice with the Montreal Canadiens. View video >

Unauthorized Justin Trudeau fire hall visit now a human resources matter, city says

January 10, 2018

CBC (original article)

City officials say a union-organized event with Canada's prime minister at one of Winnipeg's busiest fire halls did not follow proper protocols and is now being dealt with as an HR matter.

During a cross-Canada tour in July, Justin Trudeau and federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr visited with union officials from the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg (UFFW) and firefighters who were on duty at the Osborne Village fire hall.

Despite the high-profile guest, it was revealed during a recent labour arbitration hearing that city officials, including the fire chief, were unaware the event occurred until after the fact.

Michael Jack, the city's chief corporate services officer, said UFFW president Alex Forrest did not follow the rules when he organized the event.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with firefighters and UFFW president Alex Forrest at the Osborne Village fire station on July 28. No city officials were aware of the event until the following day. (UFFW website)

"It's not any mystery that Alex is a high-profile figure, operates not only within the union environment, but is also a political figure," said Jack. "So it's not completely unexpected that he is going to be attempting to orchestrate such events. What our meeting after imparted to him is that the process he followed is not acceptable and we are not accepting it."

Jack said in the following months, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Chief John Lane held meetings with Forrest and the district chief who helped him co-ordinate the event to express the city's concerns.


"I think it's obvious some assumptions were made on the part of people involved when they were being asked to do certain things or having the event explained to them, absolutely — assumptions that we want to correct in the future," said Jack.

"We would expect Alex, who completely understands how the fire paramedic service works, to have followed proper protocols and processes. Fair to say he did not in this instance."

No paper trail

CBC News filed a series of freedom of information requests to get insight into how an event with the country's head of government could be organized without coming to the attention of city officials.

The fire department access co-ordinator told CBC News no records of communication between city staff about the Prime Minister visit at the Osborne Village fire hall could be found. (UFFW website)

Requests for any documentation relating to the event, including emails and text messages, from nearly all staff who were present yielded no records.

"All individuals in the photo, less two that are currently away from the workplace and cannot be reached, have confirmed that they do not have any responsive records," said the response to an access request.

2 fire vehicles out of service during visit

The city said during the time the prime minister was at the fire hall, two of the station's fire response vehicles were on "out-of-service" status, meaning they could not be dispatched to a call.

A city spokesperson confirmed the two vehicles were unavailable for over two hours.

"Station 4's engine was out of service from 12:30 p.m. to 2:41 p.m. The Station 4 rescue was out of service from 1:14 p.m. to 2:40 p.m.," said Michelle Finley.

However, Finley said the city cannot confirm at this point whether or not these requests were made in relation to the Trudeau visit. She said one of the engines had returned from an apartment blaze on Sherbrook Streetearlier in the day and it would be common for the vehicle and crew to be unavailable for a certain period following such an event.

transcript of dispatch radio communications for the station obtained by CBC News confirms that a call from the station was made shortly before the prime minister arrived, requesting that an engine and a rescue vehicle be put on "unavailable" status.

"We can tell you that there were four calls received in the vicinity of Station 4 that likely would have been assigned to the station. In reviewing these four calls, response times by stations other than Station 4 were acceptable," Finley said.

'No apologies for building positive relationships': UFFW

Forrest declined an interview or to answer followup questions about the prime minister's visit, but issued a statement in which he said his members are disappointed the event has become a "negative media issue."

"Prime Minister Trudeau is not the first politician to visit a fire hall and will likely not be the last," Forrest wrote. "It is absolutely vital that our decision-makers understand the services and value we provide to the city we proudly serve."

Forrest said the visit was a direct result of the relationship the International Association of Fire Fighters has forged with the prime minister.

A December 29 tweet by Alex Forrest making light of the criticism over the manner in which the UFFW organized the private visit with Prime Minister Trudeau on July 28, 2017. (Twitter)

"This was not the only fire hall he had visited unannounced. He has been in fire halls from the Maritimes to British Columbia. We make no apologies for building positive relationships, and it is interesting to note in other cities, visits were appreciated and supported by the public," the statement said.

CBC News reached out to other cities whose fire departments hosted an event with the prime minister last summer. Unlike the Winnipeg event, the City of Regina confirmed senior officials were notified and involved in the planning process for Trudeau's April 27 visit at a local fire hall.

Mayor questions process of arranging PM event

Mayor Brian Bowman was quick to express concern about the Winnipeg Police Service helicopter being used in a movie shoot, but had not said anything about firefighters and apparatus being made unavailable during the prime minister's visit.

When asked if Bowman took issue with Forrest's actions, the mayor's communications director sent an email on Monday, stating, "Air 1 and a fire hall … one is a very unique, specialized piece of equipment that was deployed for use in a private-sector movie production outside the city of Winnipeg… the other is a fire station the prime minister of Canada visited within the city of Winnipeg to better understand the challenges first responders face in dealing with the opioid crisis."

On Tuesday morning, Bowman spoke with CBC, and while he welcomed the prime minister's visit, he questioned the process followed in arranging it.

"If the prime minister of Canada wants to visit a public building like a fire station, the prime minister — whomever he or she may be at the time — is going to welcomed, first and foremost. I think this was an important visit in the sense of the discussion on opioids," he said.

As for the process, Bowman said he has spoken with Lane.

"I have raised concerns with our chief of our fire and paramedic service and was advised the process that was followed is being dealt with in the department."

Unauthorized Justin Trudeau fire hall visit now a human resources matter, city says3:26

Asked how he thinks it should be dealt with, Bowman said he would leave that to administration.

"You're talking about departmental operational questions which politicians should not be weighing in on, in terms of specific operational decisions," he said.

"I think raising questions is something that we should absolutely do … but that is a question for Chief Lane."

Jack said the city is having "ongoing dialogue" with Forrest to keep him in line with the city's expectations of a union leader.

"Alex has been around for quite a while, so it's no mystery that this isn't the first time we've had a discussion like this, but relationships require ongoing work and we're having some very firm and clear communications," said Jack.

'I don't like it'

Forrest has also been in the spotlight this week after it was learned that Winnipeg taxpayers have been paying nearly two-thirds of his six-figure union salary for the past four years — even though he's been on leave from his job as fire captain to work full-time as UFFW president.

Bowman was blunt about his feelings on that.

"I don't like it," he said.


"That was a surprise to me. This decision was made before I was elected and I think many of us were surprised to learn of the arrangement … that was entered in the final months of the previous term of office."

However, Bowman said the city will honour the legal agreement until it expires on Dec. 31, 2020.

"I think the most appropriate time to deal with it is the next round of collective agreements," he said. "I know our finance chair Coun. Scott Gillingham has expressed concern about it as well."

While he doesn't know the reasons for the agreement, Bowman suggested Coun. Russ Wyatt should, since he was chair of the city's finance committee when it was signed in 2014.

However, Wyatt told the CBC that he did not know about it.

Statement by Alex Forrest about Trudeau visit

The firefighters and fire-paramedics of Winnipeg are shocked and saddened that the Prime Minister's visit to fire hall 4 is becoming a negative media issue.

We believe this is the first time the Prime Minister of Canada has visited a Winnipeg fire station to say "Thank you" to the brave men and women of the Winnipeg Fire Department in its 135 year history. This visit is something every citizen of Winnipeg should be proud of.

Also of note is that the crew working that day had just returned from a serious apartment fire during which they rescued six people from a third floor window. The PM's visit during their subsequent lunch and rehab back at the hall was a thrill for the crew and an opportunity for him to hear about the great work our department does every day in Winnipeg.

Our fire stations have always maintained an open door policy for the public to visit, and every day across the city individuals do just that; be it to drop off books for the Children's Hospital sale, coats for kids, toys for Toy Mountain, using it as a community safe house, or simply to visit the crew and see the trucks.

Every day individuals visit fire halls and sometimes these people are politicians.  Politicians from every Political affiliation have visited stations in their area and the majority of the time the Chief of the department is not aware of them; it is impossible for him to be aware of the visits, as we turn no one away.

This visit was due to the relationship IAFF firefighters have with the Prime Minister across Canada and this was not the only fire hall he had visited unannounced. He has been in fire halls from the Maritimes to British Columbia.  We make no apologies for building positive relationships, and it is interesting to note in other cities, visits were appreciated and supported by the public.

Prime Minister Trudeau is not the first politician to visit a fire hall and will likely not be the last. Any politician who wishes to discuss our profession with us is welcome to as all aspects of our job involves political decisions. It is absolutely vital that our decision makers understand the services and value we provide  to the city we proudly serve.

I ask this - When we have so many other important issues in Winnipeg such as a opioid overdoses, homelessness, poverty, arsons, and the number of fires in general causing devastation for those affected, is this really a major issue for the media and public to be concerned about?

Fatal crash claims life of Athens firefighter

January 02, 2018

Ottawa Citizen (original article)


Police have identified the victim of a fatal collision in Leeds County as 31-year-old Ryan Healey of Athens Township.

Healey worked with the Elizabethtown-Kitley Fire Department, according to remembrances posted to social media by his grieving family. He is survived by his wife and three young daughters.

Leeds County OPP arrived to the scene of a two-vehicle collision on County Road 5, near the village of Athens at 5:50 p.m. on Friday.

The lone occupant of one vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the other vehicle escaped with minor injuries.

OPP traffic collision investigators were brought in to assist with the investigation.

State to keep spying on firefighters who call out sick

December 19, 2017

Ottawa Citizen (original article)


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — New Jersey will continue to use private investigators to spy on Atlantic City firefighters and police officers who are on medical leave or out sick, a state spokeswoman said Tuesday, despite complaints from a union that it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars.

The state contends the monitoring is working and has uncovered employees who were abusing the sick policy, which also costs the city money.

“This small minority of police officers and firefighters who abuse sick time adversely affect their fellow officers by worsening the city’s labour costs through unnecessary overtime,” said Lisa Ryan, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Community Affairs.

The spying was revealed when some firefighters noticed a car parked at length outside their homes and became concerned, calling police. Officers ran the tags, revealing they belonged to an investigator, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

John Varallo Jr., president of Local 198 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, told the newspaper that the union has no issue complying with sick checks, but called the private eye a “waste.”

The city’s fire and police departments are both required to ensure employees who call out sick are at home or a place of convalescence during the hours of their scheduled shift, Ryan said.

They are also required to conduct compliance checks to ensure firefighters and police officers who call out due to illness are actually sick.

Several months ago, she said it came to the attention of the city and state that there was a threatened abuse of sick leave so they hired an investigator, Ryan said.

Varallo said he was not aware of any threat by firefighters to abuse sick time, and blamed the state for leaving the department too short-handed to handle the sick time compliance in house.

The union is fighting the state in court over a threatened 11.3 per cent pay cut that a judge has temporarily blocked.

The state assumed power over Atlantic City government under a takeover signed into law a year ago.

The private investigator has so far cost the city about $17,000, Ryan said.

Halifax fire department admits to systemic gender discrimination

November 22, 2017 (original article)


Female firefighters in Halifax have faced systemic historic gender discrimination at work, according to a settlement involving the city, the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service and former firefighter Liane Tessier. 



CBC News has learned the city plans to publicly apologise to Tessier during a media conference at the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission on Monday. 

The resolution signals the end of a 12-year legal battle by 53-year old Tessier, whose case was initially dismissed by the commission in 2012. She took the commission to court for mishandling her claim. 

The settlement coincided with a slew of sexual harassment allegations in Hollywood that sparked a broader conversation about women's treatment in the workplace. 


"Violence against women is becoming front page news now and it's been going on for decades and finally women are starting to speak out," said Tessier. 

For years, Tessier and other female firefighters in Halifax have complained about demeaning and abusive behaviour from their male co-workers and superiors.

In her claim before the commission, Tessier said when she reported the behaviour, she faced retaliation and the harassment only got worse. 


"Every woman who's ever spoken out, who's ever dared to tell the truth, has been destroyed," Tessier told CBC. 

"You're attacked. You're hated."


According to the settlement agreement, Tessier will receive an undisclosed amount of money and the city will make policy changes to ensure women can report discrimination without fear of retaliation. The city also promised to implement equitable hiring practices. Many of those changes have already been made.

While the city doesn't acknowledge the specifics in Tessier's claim, it does admit there is a systemic issue within the fire service concerning the treatment of female firefighters. 

A spokesperson for the city refused to comment on this case because the commission's work was not yet completed. 

A lost career

Tessier was 34 years old when she began working as a volunteer firefighter in 1998 with station 60 in Herring Cove, on the outskirts of Halifax. A few years later, she began picking up paid 24-hour shifts with the goal of becoming a professional firefighter. 

She rose to captain and devoted herself to instructing new recruits and skills competitions, eventually winning third place at the World Firefighter Championships in Nevada in 2007.

In her claim, Tessier said she began to be bullied, ostracized and regularly had her equipment tampered with. She wasn't given a new uniform when they were ordered and then disciplined for not having appropriate clothing at work. She was gossiped about and alienated.

It was "death by a thousand cuts," she told CBC.

"For some reason I started blaming myself, I worked harder, and the more I worked harder the more it seemed to be a threat to these guys."

She said she feared for her safety on the job. 

"All the time, you were watching your back."

Tessier began hearing allegations from other women at the fire department who said they were experiencing similar discrimination.

"One woman had used condoms put in her bunker gear, another one had threatening letters put on her locker gear saying: 'Shut up bitch or else.' One was thrown down a set of stairs. One was left alone at a fire."

These allegations are not specifically part of the settlement and have not been proven in court. 

'They did nothing'

In her claim, Tessier said when she reported the discrimination to her superiors, it got worse. She said she faced retaliation from colleagues, stopped getting called for shifts and was eventually denied a full-time job.

Tessier said she was passed over for jobs while less experienced men climbed the ranks and her complaints were minimized and dismissed by the system that was supposed to help.

Tessier said when she reported the discrimination, she was blamed. 

"They did nothing except dismiss everything," she told CBC. 

Tessier stopped taking shifts as a firefighter in 2007 and eventually moved to another career. 

She filed a human rights complaint about her treatment as a firefighter, which was dismissed four years later due to insufficient evidence in 2012. She took the commission itself to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court and in May 2014, the court ordered the commission to re-examine her case. When it did, she was granted a public hearing.

Just as the hearing was to take place in the fall of 2017, a slew of harassment allegations in Hollywood sparked a broader conversation. The city offered to settle, and Tessier said she reluctantly agreed after the city met her demands, which include being free to tell her story. 

"It's too bad that a movie star has to start the conversation and suddenly we pay attention when ordinary women for decades have been speaking out and no one's listening," said Tessier.

"It's about time."

Tessier said she believes the city counted on her eventually giving up the fight. 

The battle consumed Tessier for years, and its enormity is on full display inside her art studio perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean just outside Halifax.

Once a place of inspiration for her sketches, the studio has been overtaken by her human rights case. Instead of art supplies, mountains of paperwork are piled on tables. 

Tessier is looking forward to packing up the paperwork. But she said moving on won't be easy. The fight pushed her to the brink of suicide and left her with depression and a lingering feeling of mistrust. 

"You become more isolated, you stick to yourself more, you don't trust people," she said. 

"I lost my sense of joy for things. I lost a big part of myself. I was so obsessed with justice and having my voice be heard."

Tessier's lawyer, Melissa MacAdam of Blackburn Law in Halifax, described the settlement as a victory that will inspire more women to speak out. 

"I think it's huge," said MacAdam.

"I think anytime you're able to stand up and say, 'I fought the Goliath and I was the victor,' that's a huge accomplishment."

ROFFA member Bob Parent donates $500.00 to Kemptville District Hospital Foundation

December 13, 2017

In October, Bob Parent, owner and operator of Logs-to-Lumber, held two open houses to showcase his business and to raise funds for the Kemptville District Hospital Foundation. The events raised much attention, as well as revenue, which ultimately allowed Bob to donate $500 to the Foundation. Bob and his wife, Helen presented the cheque to Robert Noseworthy, KDHF Board Chair in early November.

The Foundation is forever grateful for the ongoing support from the community; KDH would not be the hospital it is today without the heartfelt generosity and kindness from people like Bob and his family. Visit for more information on Bob’s business.