North Huron supports objection to closing Ontario Fire College campus

·2 min read

NORTH HURON – The president of OPSEU Local 317, Chris McConnell, sent correspondence to North Huron council requesting a letter of support in the fight to save the Gravenhurst campus of the Ontario Fire College.

The Ontario government recently announced the campus’ closure, but McConnell said “that two of the three associations who were quoted in the governments press release as being in support of the closure were not consulted before the announcement, other than to be asked if they were in support of the ‘modernization and regionalization’ of training for the fire service in Ontario.”

“The government did not inform these associations that this meant closing down the Gravenhurst campus of the Fire College,” he added.

North Huron Fire Chief Marty Bedard said while he does recommend the motion to support, he informed council that the decision has already been made and that alternative training methods would be explored to offset the closure.

He added that the North Huron Fire Department doesn't send very many people to the Gravenhurst facility; they prefer "in-house" training. Still, they do use the facility for licensing. He added that alternative locations will still fulfil those requirements.

“Building on a regionally connected system of training centres, the Office of the Fire Marshal will deliver fire safety training through a combination of in-person training at regional training centres, online courses, and through contracts with individual fire departments,” a press release from the Ministry of the Attorney General said. “Expanding local training opportunities will increase capacity for training and reduce the need for municipal fire departments to pay for travel and costs related to overtime and shift backfills.”

"The varied and evolving needs of local fire services in Ontario require better access to training opportunities that are most responsive to firefighters and the communities they serve," said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. "By expanding access to local fire training across the province, we are ensuring firefighters can count on the support and resources they need to keep Ontarians safe."

It was announced last November that the Ontario Fire College and the Municipality of Brockton have partnered to host a regional training centre at the Walkerton Fire Hall.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times