Faraday council heard the Fire Services Report from The Loomex Group’s Terry Gervais at their meeting on Aug. 4. Dawn Switzer, the clerk and treasurer, said that staff will commence implementing the changes suggested by Gervais with council approval while some changes which are currently cost prohibitive may have to be temporarily deferred, but will be enacted as soon as is economically feasible.
Faraday Township staff had been instructed at the Feb. 3 council meeting to check with the Ontario Fire Marshal to determine whether to get a fire services review, which arose from a query about the fire hall addition of renovation. Council approved the hiring of a consultant to undertake this review at the March 3 meeting and a tender was put out. The tender closed March 31 and staff reviewed the quotes and presented them at the April 7 council meeting.
With a disparity in the quote amounts, staff were given instruction to approach the bidders to ensure they knew exactly what the township was looking for in a fire services review. Council subsequently approved the bid from Loomex Group at the May 5 meeting and they began the review. Council directed staff to set up a meeting between Loomex’s Gervais, Councillor Murray Bowers and Switzer with regard to the review at the June 2 meeting and that meeting took place June 8 at the township office.
Gervais, who handled the review for Faraday township, has over 36 years experience in fire services and a quarter century of senior management experience. He is a graduate of the Ontario Fire College, completed the Emergency Management Program, Business Administration and is a certified municipal manager, level three, with fire service distinction. He also writes and instructs the education and emergency management programs at Loomex.
The fire services review undertaken by Gervais was based upon the requirements of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 and other regulations and standards, like the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 21 Guidance Notes, National Fire Protection Standards and the Fire Underwriters Survey and the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Guidelines.
Gervais ultimately had 20 recommendations in his report for the township to look at and adopt.
As a representative of the Loomex Group and as a third-party consultant with the Faraday fire services review, Gervais’ recommendations were made based on meetings with Councillor Murray Bowers (the council’s fire services representative), Dawn Switzer, Fire Chief Don Kruger, the officers and firefighters, and were made in tandem with a review of the applicable laws, standards and best practices. According to Gervais’ report, his role is to provide comments and suggestions on issues that may or may not be supported by the fire chief, and some of which may require further study and consideration.
Consequently, Gervais’ recommendations were as follows; that the fire department use the records management program to electronically document all legislative requirements for better documentation, retention of statistics and a reduction in liability within two years, updating the Establishing and Regulation Bylaw to reflect the current needs and circumstances of the township within two years, that the township complete a community risk assessment before the 2024 legislation comes into effect to comply with the FPPA within three to five years, that the fire chief updates the smoke alarm program to include carbon monoxide alarms as per legislation within two years, that the fire department formalizes a Joint Health and Safety committee as per the Occupational Health and Safety Act to promote health and safety within two years, that the fire chief works with the officers to develop a training program for the department that educates the firefighters on the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Ministry of Labour section 21 guidance notes within two years, that the fire chief works with the officers to develop a PPE management system that meets cleaning and testing best practices and standards within two years, that the fire chief relocates or fastens all equipment in the passenger compartments of the fire apparatus including separating the passengers and equipment compartment in the equipment van within two years, that the fire chief and the officers review the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats or SWOT [this is a structured planning method that evaluates an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats] results and determine if any of the suggestions from the analysis will be incorporated into the department’s strategic plan within two years, that all officer and firefighter training data, including the instructor’s name, length of time and type of training is entered into the record management program within two years, that the department establishes a standard lesson plan to ensure the training is applicable and meets recognized standards within three to five years, that a training schedule is developed and communicated to all firefighters in advance of training within two years, that the township considers an Automatic Aid Agreement with the Town of Bancroft and the Municipality of Hastings Highlands to provide the first response for structure and wildland fires in areas where either fire department can arrive promptly at the scene within three to five years, that the fire chief begins submitting cost recovery for provincial highway response to the MTO and is retroactive of all 2021 responses within two years, that the fire chief uses the records and management program to record all maintenance, testing and repairs completed on all equipment and fire apparatus within two years, that the fire chief and council consider replacing Station Two’s pumper and tanker with a new pumper/tanker within two years, that both fire stations need general cleaning and reorganizing to maximize available space at each station within two years, that the hazardous materials explosive proof cabinets are moved from the main entrance of Station One and relocated to the apparatus floor area within two years, that an energy audit and feasibility study be undertaken on both fire stations to determine if the buildings are still viable investments for the township within three to five years and finally, that the fire chief explores possible grants for upgrading the fire stations within two years.
All of the recommendations made by Gervais were labelled as mandatory to get done, except for recommendations five, 12, 13, 15, 17 and 19. The recommendations that are going to have a budgetary impact on the township are recommendations one, three, seven, eight, 13, 14, 16, 19 and 20, while the recommendations that will require council approval to proceed with are recommendations two, three, four, 13, 16 and 19.
Gervais thought the presentation of his fire services review report went very well and was well received by the council.
“Council, the clerk-treasurer, the fire chief and the firefighters were an intricate part of the process and were all willing to participate. The review streamed from what council had asked us to do and although many of the recommendations will not be easy decisions for this or future councils to try and deal with, at least the department and council now have a roadmap for the future to continue to provide the excellent fire services to the community while possibly finding opportunities to share services, in some cases cost save and meet their legislative requirements,” he says.
Switzer says that council was quite impressed with Gervais’ report and are aware of what needs to happen moving forward.
“Council directed staff to have the review completed to confirm that the township is meeting all requirements for the safety of the public and our volunteers in an efficient and effective manner. Staff will start to implement the recommendations and all changes that require the approval of council will be provided in the agenda packages as staff complete,” she says. “Some recommendations may have to be put on hold due to the cost, but we will continue to work at meeting the recommendations moving forward.”
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times