Vice President Perry McConnell opened the meeting with a welcome to all and stated that President Bob Larochelle is very ill with COVID and sends his regrets.
Perry provided the following Presidents report on behalf of Bob...
-In addition to Bob, Frontline CEO Steve Kingan is also absent due to COVID.
-John Kealy of Billyard Insurance has been added to the agenda and will speak on out of country insurance coverage.
-Thank you to all of our partners and sponsors for their support.
-Neil Warrens term as Past President concludes today and Neil is stepping away from ROFFA after ten years of dedicated service. Many thanks for all your work Neil.
-After seven years on the ROFFA board, Terry Thompson is retiring as a Director. Thank you Terry for all your work as well.
-The annual ROFFA golf tournament took place on September 12th at Equinelle and was a great success as usual. More than 150 ROFFA members, active fire fighters, spouses and sponsors participated. Everyone enjoyed a great dinner with lots of prizes thanks to our sponsors.
VP Perry then asked those in attendance to stand as the national anthem was played, followed by a moment of silence for those dear members we have lost since our last meeting.
On a motion from John McCarthy, seconded by Steve Carkner, Perry received a unanimous vote to accept the minutes of the Spring '23 AGM.
Debbie McCabe presented her Treasurers report showing $16,211 in our chequing account; $3,072 in our clothing account; and $587 in our Christmas Lunch account. On a motion from Craig Morrison, seconded by Dave Smith, Perry received a unanimous vote to accept the Treasurers report with thanks to Debbie.
Fire Chief Paul Hutt spoke and began by thanking Neil Warren and Terry Thompson for their dedication to ROFFA. Chief Hutt introduced Public Information Officer Nick DeFazzio to those in attendance.
The Chief spoke about the departments annual 'Sirens for Life Challenge' where area emergency services donate blood between June and September. This year, Ottawa Fire was second only to the RCMP with the most blood donations made. The Chief expressed his pride in this accomplishment and reflected on the many lives saved through this great effort. He encouraged ROFFA members to join the OFS team next year.
The Chief presented the OFS annual report for '21/'22 to the city recently. With 30,000 responses last year, call volume is up. False alarms represent a significant number of responses and the department is considering ways to reduce these, including a possible fine for commercial false alarms similar to other major cities. Medical calls are also up, in part due to the opiod crysis downtown and the frequency of 'level zero' situations (no paramedic ambulances available to repsond). While OFS continues to meet their required response standards as set out in their four year accreditation process, they must continue to grow with the ever increasing demands for service. With Fire Prevention Week upon us, the Chief stated that there were 133 fire fatalities in the province of Ontario last year, the highest number ever. He encouraged members to help with fire prevention awareness, particularly the checking of smoke detectors.
The Chief showed a photo of the soon to be commissioned HazMat 21 on the big screen. This is a fully equipped ($1.2 million) vehicle intended to work with HazMat 24 and in its place should we deploy to meet our HazMat obligations outside the city. In reponse to a question, the Chief revealed, in addition to the high cost of HazMat 21, a fully equipped pumper now costs about $1 million!
Chief Hutt announced that with the imminent retirement of Special Operations Chief Jim Andrews, firefighter Dan Kirvan is the successful candidate to replace him on January 1st. Dan has an impressive resume in the field of special operations. Of interest, all Ottawa firefighters must be provincially certified in special operations by 2028.
In closing, the Chief wished everyone and safe and happy thanksgiving with a reminder to be safe when cooking and with smoking materials.
Craig Morrison, manager of the OttawaPFFA sick benefit fund spoke about retired member benefits with a focus on out of country insurance coverage. Our city insurance carrier is Canada Life (formerly London Life). Our plan works with, and compliments OHIP. Craig suggests that travellers carry both cards along with photocopies of those as well. Plan coverage differs depending on ROFFA members retirement date and former department. Anyone retiring prior to 2004 are on the old Ottawa plan, while anyone retiring since that time is on the new Ottawa plan. The new plan only provides coverage for 60 days out of the province or country. Travellers can return home for 24 hours to 'reset' the clock on their 60 days of insurance coverage. This coverage is for non pre-existing conditions. Travellers are responsible to ensure that they insurable, and must be stable and without a change in medical status for 90 days before a trip. Craig urges everyone to book medical appointments and tests in the Spring. There are 37 pages of information in our plan. Five to six of those speak to out of country coverage and travel assistance.
If you experience a medical emergency while travelling, go to the nearest emergency department and contact travel assistance as soon as you're stable. They will assist with up to $1 million in lifetime coverage that may include getting home for additional treatment. Craig suggests this is less than adequate as the industry standard is now $5 million. Third party insurers can provide additional coverage. Craig explained that contacting Canada Life by phone is very difficult now that the Canada Public Service has joined them. He suggests calling your doctor instead. Canada Life does, however, have a good record of replying promptly to email requests for information. In conclusion, travellers should present both their OHIP and Canada Life cards when seeking medical assistance.
John Kealy, owner of Billyard Insurance, and a long time sponsor of ROFFA also spoke about out of country insurance from a third party insurers perspective. Available coverage includes emergency medical, COVID 19, dental, ambulance, trip cancellation/delay, and assistance getting home. Single trip and annual plans for multiple trips throughout the year are available.
John suggests that travellers opt for a zero deductible plan to avoid extra expenses and trip delay/cancellation/interuption coverage. Coverage is available for travellers with existing conditions. Most plans now include $5 million in life of the plan coverage. These plans have a travel assist hotline and the call should be made as soon as the traveller is stable.
NOTE: Third party insurers can top up the 60 day out of country limit offered with the city plan. Perry commented that a typical 24 hour period of medical care in a U.S. hospital could easily total $35,000!
Peter McBride, acting President of the Bytown Fire Brigade was the next speaker. Following up on his remarks at the Spring AGM, Bytown is still working towards the implementation of their new strategic plan. This includes reforming many of their policies; separating artifacts from documents; grant applications; reducing their fleet of fire apparatus to a manageable and insurable number; and repairing those deamed most useful for public display and events. Among others, they have approached the City of Ottawa for grants with a favourable response and the hope of funds to assist with a new website. Insurance has become extremely expensive, with five apparatus costing six times more to insure than ten apparatus previously! John McCarthy's 1928 Buffalo fire apparatus is now running. The Bytown is dealing with the gradual loss of much of their founding and senior members with the associated loss of knowledge and experience. They are actively working to capture these individuals stories in video and encourage ROFFA members to participate. During COVID, Bytown lost their charity status and are actively working to get it back. In response to a comment from Dave Smith, Peter stated that Bytown is aware of a possible display opportunity at the Cumberland Museum. In response to a comment from John McCarthy, Peter revealed that Bytown is now mortgage free!
Ottawa Professional Firefighters Association (OPFFA) President Dave Andre spoke on the following... After serving in many roles within the OPFFA for many years, Dave has been President since January 1st/'23. Station 45 in Kanata north is relocating and should be operational early in 2024. The pump at station 81 (Stittsville Main Street) should be staffed with full time firefighters by 2025. The members of that station have already been made aware. The OPFFA will soon begin negotiations with the city as their collective agreement expires this year. Dave reports that he has a good working relationship with the fire chief with an understanding that contentious issues be brought to arbritation early in the process. Attempts will be made to secure some basic dental coverage for retirees. With more cancers being added to the provinces presumptive list, the WSIB committee is busier than ever and Dave asks for members patience in responding to thier claims. With the loss of Neal McMillan to the IAFF, it's difficult to duplicate his previous efforts with the OPFFA files. As a possible solution, Dave is considering hiring a lawyer and paralegal who specialize in WSIB cases to help reduce the backlog of claims.
Brenda Tirell and Gerry Pingitore presented an overview of the Ottawa First Responders Foundation (OFRF). There are three pillars in their service delivery plan.. Education; Peer to Peer Dialoque; Councelling Support. OFRF works with all first repsonders in Ottawa and shares best practices with all through their first repsonders mental health group. Gerry recently represented OFRF at the ROFFA golf tournament and answered questions from firefighters. Retirees lose much of their mental health benefits and the OFRF provides up to $4,000 per year ($1,000 quarterly) for each first repsonder client paid directly to the clinician. They can typically respond to an application for assistance within 24 to 48 hours including a clinician referral. Brenda offered the following examples of actual services provided... rookie paramedics with no benefits in their first year receiving funds for councelling; a firefighter sent for PTSD counceling at a cost of $7,000 that the client described at "life changing"; equine therapy for the handicapped child of a paramedic. The OFRF is supporting ROFFA, Frontline One canteen truck, and the Bytown Fire Brigade as all of these offer firefighters the opportunity the meet and dialogue with the hope of raising even greater awareness of mental health and the support OFRF can offer.
Paul Cassagrande and Brian Conway collectively addressed those present regarding the Ottawa Firefighters Memorial and the Ottawa Fire Department Band. Paul began with a reminder of the history the memorial and the original founders... Dawson McVeeters, Angelo Filoso, Dave Smith, Dave Stephenson, Brian Conway and Lana O'Brien. The most recent service held Friday Sept 8/'23 was the 22nd annual! Paul went on to explain that the board of directors has decided to seek assistance from ROFFA, Frontline Credit Union, Bytown Fire Brigade, OFS, the band, and the OPFFA. Their hope is to have one member from each of the above join their board and work toward maintaining/improving the memorial site, the website, and the memorial service. Paul thanked Johanne Laferierre and Bob Rainboth among others for their continued support.
Paul also reported that band has been keeping a busy schedule, especially around 'memorial weekend' with performances at the Ottawa and Federal service as well as the opening of the new city council, where they reminded elected officials that they are the official band of the city of Ottawa. Paul encouraged everyone to participate in the monthly draw for Senators tickets and that they are now offering membership in the draw to retired members through an annual etransfer payment. He also pointed out that new band members are most welcome to join.
Brian reminded the audience that while the land on which the memorial now sits was donated by the city, all the funds to build it were raised by the tireless efforts of the committee and supporters (in excess of $1 million!). This was achieved through dinner/dances, cookbook sales, and 'brick' sales. The memorial has become an amazing legacy to all Ottawa Firefighters with an annual ceremony honouring deceased members and their families. Brian echoed Pauls remarks concerning their aging board of directors and to please consider helping out. He also urged members to consider a financial donation to sustain the memorial including bequests. A video of this years ceremony will be available soon.
NOTE: Dave Smith rose to support the need for more volunteerism within the fire service family and spoke of his pride in the Ottawa Firefighter Memorial.
John McCarthy stood briefly to explain that the lunch everyone was about to enjoy was thanks to the Salvation Army (the chilli), Frontline Credit Union (drinks, chips, condiments) and ROFFA (the staff to make it all possible).
The draw took place with the help of Debbie McCabe and Colleen Gagnon. There were seven different winners receiving Keg gift certificates (two at $100) donated by Frontline, an LCBO gift certificate for $50 donated by BIG Insurance, and a choice of ROFFA clothing (four winners).
New Business: Neil Warren reviewed the election process due to the vacancy created by the retirement of Terry Thompson from the board. While there were no nominations from the floor, Neil explained that Johanne Laferierre had been nominated following an email notification to all members the previous week. While Johanne is not a 'member' of ROFFA, she does qualify as an 'Associate' under section seven of our constitution and has been a long time supporter of firefighters, ROFFA and the memorial. Following a show of hands, Johanne was unanimously elected to the board. Perry stated that her initial role will be as liaison to the Ottawa Firefighters Memorial Foundation.
Perry asked if there was any Good and Welfare or anything else outstanding from the floor with nothing forthcoming.
He stated that the Spring AGM remains to be determined.
On a motion from Dave Smith, the meeting was adjourned.