Sault Ste. Marie Fire Fighters Welcome Ministry of Labour Order to City

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Firefighters held a press conference Wednesday morning in front of the Number 1 fire hall

Sault Ste. Marie fire fighters today applauded a Ministry of Labour order requiring the City of Sault Ste. Marie to redraft Operating Guidelines that impact fire fighter safety and could impact public safety.

The Sault Ste. Marie Professional Fire Fighters Association has been pushing the city to reverse planned cuts to fire service staff, arguing that the public and fire fighters will be at greater risk with fewer fire fighters available to answer emergency calls.
“The City has consistently focused on the cost of fire fighting, forgetting entirely about its value,” said Marty Kenopic, Sault Ste. Marie Professional Fire Fighters Association President. “Just last week, we heard the city blaming the cost of WSIB claims coming from fire fighters who sacrificed their health to help protect the people of Sault Ste. Marie. Yesterday’s Ministry of Labour order will, I hope, encourage the city to ensure that we have properly-staffed fire trucks at all times.”

The Ministry of Labour order comes after the Sault Ste. Marie Professional Fire Fighters Association appealed the city’s decision not to amend fire fighter operational and safety guidelines to reflect the lower staffing of each truck. The Ministry of Labour order requires the city to prepare new guidelines to reflect the consequences of the Sault Ste. Marie Fire Department’s reduced staffing when responding to a call.

“New guidelines are only part of the solution,” added Kenopic. “They will tell our fire fighters what to do with one less fire fighter per truck, but I still don’t think it will solve the problem of the planned reduction in staff.”

The City has until January 27th to comply with the Ministry of Labour order.

9 COMMENTS

  1. The City and more specifically the 5 bar so called chief at the top should be held fully accountable up to and including a substantial fine for their actions in this regard. The new 5 bar guy is obviously not in tune to the prescribed standards under the OH&SA regarding procedures for undertaking various work related tasks, particularity under Section 21’s mandate for firefighting strategies and tactics.

    When the City decided to hack and slash away at the fire suppression division, those guidelines should have been in place prior to the new ill-conceived directive issued to firefighters by 5 bar. Just to remind our so called political leaders including Mayor and all of Council, firefighters run into burning buildings to save lives, property and the environment, and the best you can do is basically tell them to work it out with 5 bar. Give me a break, this new fascist gun slinging sheriff is a nothing more than a school yard bully who needs to be held to account for his reprehensible actions. He has decimated the work and efforts of the current fire suppression division and past regimes without so much as any forethought or input from stakeholders.

    And while I would agree that the City in general has to be more fiscally responsible, you simply don’t change one of the most critical elements in public safety arbitrarily, in the absence of a sound defensible argument to do so.

    Again, I would ask our Mayor and Council where is my tax rebate given the staffing shortfall in the fire suppression division. Talk about smoke and mirrors, and we as citizens need to ask are so called leaders WTH is going on with public safety and insist that they take the appropriate action to undertake a third party risk assessment at no cost to the taxpayer as offered by the Province.

    I look forward to the 2018 election and hopefully see a complete purge from Mayor through to Council and bring in common sense to what has been a lackluster performance over the last two years of the current group of local level politicians!!!!!!

  2. The current fire response model is old and outdated. In many cities, the bulk of fire Sept calls are fender benders, false alarms and medical assistance to paramedics. Fires and call volume are dropping yet budgets and manpower continue to rise. Firefighting is dangerous however, the Ontario wide trend amongst municipal fire depts are seeing a decline in fires due to better building materials, better building codes and less smokers and less individuals using candles. We cannot justify massive inflated budgets for the fire dept while other services such as parks and recreation, community clinics and social housing budgets are slashed and reduced to allow for a nation of $100,000/yr fire fighters. Something has to happen and unfortunately the fire unions constant complaining is not resonating with the public. Medical calls are increasing, health care costs are needing attention and the reallocation of monies from fire to paramedic is an obvious one.
    http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/FireMarshal/MediaRelationsandResources/FireStatistics/OntarioFires/stats_all_fires.html

    • Nathan. I would like you to let us know what your feelings would be when your home is on fire, your family member is trapped inside, a truck with 3 firefighters arrive, and they have to wait for 5, 8, even 10 minutes for enough staff to assemble on scene before they can make an interior attack and rescue them. Oh, and because fire are down, this is the only fire this year. By your logic we don’t need firefighters because fires are down. Does that mean that these workers are mandated to work unsafely? Does it mean that they take higher risks, instead of following long thought out guidelines, that have been developed through years of experience in dealing with these emergencies? Having less staff on scene will result in more injuries, more deaths and more long lasting traumas both mentally and physically for the public and the firefighters. These are also things that occur in current fire response. Buildings actually burn faster than ever these days calling for quicker response. A delay of manpower will only result in more loss. Less smokers, maybe. Less candle burners, wonder where you find that statistic. Maybe you can take a few minutes out of your busy day and write up a new operating guideline for the Fire Chief so he can tell his men just how to do more with less. I have been following this entire fiasco very closely for the past year and have learned a great deal about this service. When a city takes such a huge step backwards its citizens will end up paying much more in the long run. If the plan they have put forward is that great, why does the Chief not answer questions or simply lay out proper procedures for his workers? He continues to say he will sit down and talk with the firefighters anytime but we have yet to hear whether he has ever done this or not. Can you answer me that question? Maybe he could use the guided wisdom that you and Bernie have to develop a proper plan for the firefighters to use when attacking a fire.
      thanks, enjoy your weekend

      • “Babies will burn!! Babies will burn!!” The typical fear-mongering by fire departments forced to face reality. The public is on to you boys. This is not a huge step backwards but a bold leap forward in addressing the true issue. Fire departments save property, paramedics save lives.
        All the best.

  3. Burn-E” or Bernie, whatever you want to be called. I’m not sure where the whining you are talking about has occurred. In our great country we have labour laws that protect workers. It appears that the Firefighters have requested some proper direction of the City of Sault Ste Marie. The City has cut frontline staffing, yet given zero direction as to how these workers are now supposed to perform their duties with less people at fires. Once again it sounds like the City of SSM, made moves to cuts costs without taking into account the safety of their employees. If you take away the goalie from a hockey team to save money, how well will that team perform? Firefighting is not a new profession. I would guess that after hundreds of years there might be a process to follow when attacking a fire to provide the safest methods of using manpower to eliminate as much risk as possible. The whole re-alignment was to reduce risk on the side of EMS. I would assume that that has been achieved. To me it sounds as though all the City of Sault Ste Marie has done is “shift the risk”. The Ministry of Labour does not just hand out orders randomly based on “fake facts or information”. They investigate and when there is a problem they address it. This process is out there to protect all workers. Even you Bernie if you work for someone, will be protected by these laws.
    The other disgusting thing in all this is the City of Sault Ste Marie blaming a deficit on WSIB claims for victims of cancer due to performing their duties http://ctv.news/e1rY2rR and even taking a shot at PTSD claims http://ow.ly/UwTw305QR2u for some emergency service workers. I personally find that offensive adding insult to injury. I wouldn’t be surprised with an increase of WSIB claims due to understaffing. It would seem that a decreased staff will become exposed to more tragedy and more toxic environmnents per person than ever before.
    Bernie, I would say to you, there is no whining. People standing up for their right to work in the safest manner possible, even in an emergency service is definitely not whining. Have a nice day.

    • Burn-E. Very clever. Yes, I and my fellow co-workers are employed under very safe working conditions, free from sexual harassment, unsafe conditions, and abusive employers. The province mandates this for everyone. All of this is done without the need to fork over parts of our paycheques to parasitic unions hell-bent on extracting every nickle and dime from the taxpaying public they are employed to protect. We are paid a good market rate, and if another opportunity arises, we are free to choose. We do not make threats of striking, childish comments like home insurance increases, nor do we demand to be paid the same as someone else living in a much more expensive city. (if you want to be paid the same as them, go move there). We treat our clients with the respect they deserve, as they pay our salaries. I suggest you try the same…unless you’ve consumed too much of the union kool-aid. At least it seems to help with witty repartee. With the tax base slowly diminishing in the Sault, I fear the direction towards reduced and necessary services is a path already established, and experienced in other communities across Canada…a reality MOST people understand. Public & employee safety is already regulated, and will not be compromised.

      • Burn-E. You accept the benefits of a safe workplace, you can thank the “parasitic” unions for that being results of many years of working to make workplaces safe and fairly paid. These are the types of things unions do. They work with government to keep people safe and respected in the workplace. As far as “childish” threats of insurance rates rising, if you have been paying attention with any open mind and done a little research you would know this to be true. Insurance rates are affected by the type of fire service provided. As far as drinking the “union Kool aid”, the only place I have heard that reference about “kool aid” was while watching a “backdoor” council meeting and it came from the Fire Chief. I guess you watched the same video. As far as public and employee safety, I guess the MOL is wrong in this situation as well. Because they always go around throwing out unsubstantiated orders to Corporations. As you should, I will continue to stay informed and open minded on this matter. enjoy your day

  4. Oh, will the whining ever end? City council are freezing pay, head count. There simply is not enough money to continue this charade. Time for these heroes to do the same. Take a pay cut, use the money saved to increase staff levels, if they’re so worried about our safety and rising home insurance rates (guffaw). It won’t happen, since their ONLY concern is increased union membership, increased union dues paid, and ever-increasing pay/pensions for as little work as possible.

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