Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association President Rob Hyndman is seeking to correct the Sault Ste. Marie Fire Chief in a letter to the Mayor and City Council over some “misinformation” that he feels the chief is spreading.
The following is Hyndman’s letter:
Dear Mr. Mayor:
I am writing today regarding comments made by Sault Ste. Marie Fire Chief Figliola in connection with the upcoming review by the Ontario Fire Marshal (OFM) of the municipality’s fire services.
In a December 12, 2016 Sault Star article, Chief Figliola is reported as saying that “this is a standard review and the fire marshal conducts these from time to time.” I would like to inform you that this kind of fire services review by the Ontario Fire Marshal is the exception, not the norm.
Since 2011, the Ontario Fire Marshal has conducted reviews in five municipalities employing full-time fire fighters:
- Deep River, in 2011, in response to a fatal fire in 2010;
- Sudbury, in 2012, at the request of the municipality;
- Cambridge, in 2013, at the request of the municipality;
- St. Catharines, in 2015, initiated by the Ontario Fire Marshal in 2014;
- Amherstburg, in 2016, at the request of the fire chief.
It seems clear that reviews initiated by the municipality could be called “standard,” since the news stories accompanying the release of the reports focus on opportunities for service delivery.
However, that only accounts for three of the five reviews conducted by the OFM over the last five years. The other two reviews appear to have been conducted in extraordinary circumstances: after a fatal fire and as initiated by the OFM. As Chief Figliola indicated that the municipality did not request the review, I can only conclude that the decision to conduct a review of the Sault Ste. Marie Fire Service is similarly extraordinary and comes due to concern over recent municipal decisions to reduce the front-line fire service by 25%.
I hope that you and your City Council colleagues will consider carefully the OFM recommendations and take appropriate action to ensure that residents of Sault Ste. Marie have the exceptional fire services to which they have become accustomed.
Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association