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Are You Ready to Become a Female Firefighter in Canada?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Over the years, becoming a female firefighter has come with its own unique challenges. The field is still predominantly led by men, but in reality, there are no gender rules for what makes a good firefighter.

To answer the calling of being a rescue firefighter, a person must possess honesty, dependability, dedication, be a team player, and be able to maintain a regular physical fitness regime. Each member brings their own strengths to contribute to the team.

Departments Are Developing Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion by Recruiting Females 

To encourage more females to become a firefighter, many departments across the country are adopting policies focusing on equality, diversity, and inclusion. With the assistance of local organizations and support from businesses, fire departments are engaging in educational programs to students, community leaders, and the general public on the need for female firefighters.

One major contributor to inviting females to join fire departments is adapting the functionality of facilities for all members. This can include (but is not limited to) properly sized uniforms, separate sleeping quarters and bathroom and showering facilities, as well as respectful rules and policies in place.

Myths About Females Joining Fire Departments and Services

For any female wanting to join one of the most rewarding careers, there will always be challenges. Opposition from family, friends, and colleagues is only one obstacle as there is a lot of misinformation online and through word-of-mouth.

Common myths include firefighting is a gender-specific job, fire departments don’t value female firefighters’ contributions, discrimination in getting promotions, women being treated badly by fellow firefighters, and how it negatively affects family life.

Fire Departments Are Considering Increasing the Safety of Female Firefighters

Every member of a fire department has the safety for themselves, other team members, and the general public in mind while performing their job. To ensure female candidates follow their dreams without concern, many fire departments are taking measures to improve safety.

One of the best ways to ensure safety is top priority is by having proper female firefighter training. This can be done with attention to training and fire ground safety for female firefighters. Leadership is focusing on improving the work environment and culture to help female firefighters grow in their career.

This can also include research on the circumstances of injuries, personal characteristics, and other factors to accurately pinpoint when, why, and how female firefighters are being injured. It is important to include research on female-specific work-related cancers, as well.

Canadian Female Firefighters Achieving New Heights

  • Kimber MacLeod: Kimber is Nova Scotia’s first female fire chief and works for the Cabot Volunteer Fire Department.
  • Yvonne Raymer: Yvonne joined the Saskatoon Fire Department in 1995 and today sits as the department’s first female assistant chief.
  • Robin Chant: Robin became Brandon’s first female firefighter paramedic in 1994 after attending a firefighter academy for emergency services.

FESTI Welcomes All Aspiring Female Firefighters

At FESTI, we welcome any person wanting to become a firefighter. All of our programs are designed to provide the same learning, training, and practical skills for a successful career—regardless of gender. Our facilities offer diverse learning experiences for females, males, and non-binary candidates. This year, FESTI is hosting the FSWO (Fire Service Women of Ontario) Symposium. To learn more about our courses and our dedication to supporting women in fire, contact us today by filling out the form here.

How to Reduce Firefighter Line of Duty Deaths and Accidents

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Firefighter accidents unfortunately are part of the risk of becoming a firefighter. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards are followed in Canada under the Office of the Fire Marshall in Ontario. Their findings of firefighter fatalities over the past few decades show that while the equipment and protection measures have improved, the number of deaths and injuries have remained the same.

Recent Firefighter Accidents and Deaths

In Canada, there have been reported firefighter accidents and deaths in every province and territory. Recent incidents involve a Manitoba Wildfire Service member succumbing to his injuries of a live fire and an Alberta volunteer firefighter killed in a vehicle accident while responding to an active blaze.

During the Atlantic Fire Leadership Conference held in the summer 2022, special guest speaker Dr. Robert Krause, a battalion chief from Ohio, presented the findings of his study of 176 line of duty deaths (LODD). His research highlighted that the top reasons of LODD were sub-optimal personnel readiness and inadequate preparation. He stated that the most important lesson is to have overall training for all firefighter personnel.

NFPA Study on Firefighter Deaths by Cause of Injury

The National Fire Protection Association routinely releases information and studies on fire statistics, injuries, and fatalities within the industry. The organization is dedicated to providing updates on fire protection systems, causes of major fires, and other fire-related topics.

The latest NFPA updated study results were released in July 2022. It included data on recent firefighter deaths as a result of injury while on active duty.

Cause of Injury






Rapid fire progress/explosions






Struck by Vehicle






Structural Collapse



Exposure to Electricity



Lost Inside



Exposure to Heat



Ways to Prevent Firefighter Injuries and Fatalities

Firefighter training focuses on preventing injuries and fatalities by teaching the skills and techniques needed for safety. Becoming a firefighter requires a sense of wanting to help people and putting one’s life on the line to help save others.

With the proper training, firefighters learn to respond to active fires and emergency situations with the knowledge and equipment to manage the safety of their fellow chapter members and the public at large.

Training Safety Officer Program

Courses for firefighters do not stop at the end of the class schedule. Firefighters at all levels require specialized ongoing training throughout their careers. While a training safety officer program focuses on the responsibilities of a fire department health and safety officer and/or an incident safety officer, it is necessary for all members to have the right tools.

In-house and on-site training programs are designed to assist career and volunteer firefighters to safeguard personnel safety while making decisions in the best interest of everyone involved.

Taking a Proactive Approach to Fitness

The physical aspect of becoming a firefighter is designed to protect the wellbeing of the firefighter while performing the tasks and duties of the job. Each fire department has its own fitness program/guidelines in accordance with its governing board. In addition to keeping firefighters safe, the physical fitness programs are adopted by departments to reduce the risk of injury and compensation claims.

Using the Right Protective Clothing

Having access and using proper protective clothing, gear, and equipment can reduce the risk of injury and possible death during the fighting of active fires. Firefighters require bunker gear which usually consists of a coat, pants, gloves, helmet, hood, boots, and equipment such as a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). It is crucial that firefighters have the appropriate gear and safety equipment that resists heat stress without inhibiting mobility.

The Importance of Firefighter Training to Prevent On-Duty Injuries and Deaths

Firefighting programs offered at accredited schools and colleges have a responsibility to ensure each graduate has the proper training to prevent on-duty injury and death of themselves and in respect to others. Live fire training is one of the most needed approaches for any form of firefighter training. It is with this type of on-hands situation the firefighter learns to make critical decisions while performing safety measures to stop the dangerous fire.

How FESTI Can Help with Firefighter Training

The Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) offers some of the top accredited programs and firefighter courses in Ontario. We focus on courses, programs, and training certifications to new and current firefighters, emergency personnel, and corporate organizations.

Our NFPA courses are instructed by certified and experienced fire department officials at our main location at Toronto Pearson International Airport. As the country’s largest Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) training source, we are the solution for your search for a “firefighter academy near me”.

Need more reasons?

  • We are part of an active fire department with associated training facilities.
  • We have other college programs use our training facilities.
  • We offer new and updated courses, programs, and training facilities.
  • We employee experienced full-time training staff.
  • We are located in a prime location for training for firefighters and emergency personnel from across Canada and the world.
  • We can offer customized programs in accordance with the guidelines and recommendations of NFPA standards.

Register for a course or program by clicking here and complete the webpage registration. Or for more information about FESTI, contact us today.

2023 Firefighter Job Prospects and Opportunities in Ontario

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

A new year brings changes and if you are looking into a firefighter career, the Ontario firefighter job prospects are promising!

For provincial firefighters (NOC 4312), many firefighters are reaching the age of retirement, which means there will be positions opening. With the need for better protection, there will also be new positions opening in various job fields within the fire services.

Increase in the Number of Firefighter Job Openings in 2023

While the number of firefighter jobs in Ontario are determined by the jurisdiction, 2023 is expected to see more postings in the field. Northern Ontario sees the highest need for more fire services with the massive areas of forests. It is projected that more municipalities will be adding funds to their fire services in the coming year.

Opportunities for Females 

In the male-dominated world of firefighting, there are ample opportunities for females to become trained firefighters. In fact, across the country, only five percent of all firefighters are female. The municipality of Clearview, Ontario has seen a spike in the number of female firefighters as the most recent recruitment training course consisted of more than 70% women.

The Fire Service Women Ontario association is focused on increasing the number of female firefighters as well as ensuring there is gender equality across the board. Their commitment and vision for female firefighters includes inclusion in both the personal and professional female roles.

Is Firefighting a Promising Career?

To become a firefighter, a person must have specific qualities. With the vocation of firefighting, the rewards always outweigh the risks as helping others is the ultimate goal of living. The role itself provides physical and mental challenges while offering a kinship among a group of men and women who share the same values.

With a firefighter career, you can expect to face life-saving experiences, become a strong member of the community, and help to teach the public about fire safety. Over the past 20 years, firefighters have also taken on the role of providing medical response in emergency situations.

Who Employs Firefighters?

A firefighter may work in various municipal, provincial, and federal government roles within a fire department setting. Industries such as manufacturing plants, airports, security, construction, and electrical power companies also have a dedicated team of firefighters.  

Financial Benefits of Becoming a Firefighter

For those in the firefighting service, the pay scale varies depending on the role of the position and the location. The average salary in Canada for a full-time firefighter ranges from $96,000 to $125,000 (as reported in 2019). 

The benefits offered also are dictated based on the employer. Most incentives include vision care, dental care, prescription services, and paramedical services. Other compensation packages may include pension plans, sick leave, a retirement package, life insurance plan, separate cancer coverage plan, and a federally funded volunteer tax credit.

What Basic Skills Are Required to Become a Successful Firefighter?

Firefighter training is an intense program, both for the mind and the body. In Ontario, there are specialized courses for firefighters at accredited schools. Candidates must be 18 years or older, legally entitled to work in Canada, have no criminal convictions, and hold a valid Ontario Secondary School diploma or academic equivalency. A Standard First Aid and CPR Level HCP certification must also be held and be valid at the time of application.

A potential candidate must also be willing and able to work rotating shifts year-round, speak, read, and write in fluent English, and be able to function under extreme pressure situations. 

How FESTI Can Help You to Become a Firefighter

For the highest level of pre-firefighter training standards, consider the courses offered by the Fire and Emergency Service Training Institute (FESTI). The training programs and certifications are performed at FESTI’s headquarters, which is the Toronto Pearson International Airport fire service. Each course and practical incident is guided by the knowledgeable instructors and within a safely designed environment.

NFPA 1001 Level l and ll Certification

The NFPA 1001 training course for Level I and II certifications is offered with in-class and hands-on practical experiences to simulate the life of a firefighter. From working in a traditional firehall setup to responding to live fires within a burn house and rescue tower, auto extrication, and firefighting survival, candidates receive intense training and skill development.

Blended NFPA 1001 Level l and ll Training Program

FESTI offers a blended training program for candidates who want/need to take the theoretical courses remotely. The same educational courses are provided over a four-month period. The hands-on practical portion of the program will require onsite participation at FESTI’s training grounds.

NFPA 1072 Hazardous Materials Awareness

This IFE accredited course provides the necessary skills and knowledge needed by any emergency responder first on the scene of hazardous materials situations. This program covers the information of hazardous materials and how to respond in a safe manner for the surroundings and everyone involved.

NFPA 1072 Hazardous Materials Operations

With the NFPA 1072 Hazardous Material Awareness course completion, candidates can progress with the operations course to learn first-hand the essential defense of hazardous materials. Candidates will respond and contain to situations involving hazardous materials and terrorism activities.

Standard First Aid, Level C CPR and AED (Red Cross)

To ensure candidates posses the skills, knowledge, and demeaner to respond to medical emergencies, this program provides federal, provincial, and territorial regulations. Content includes response to medical emergencies such as breathing and circulation, respiratory conditions, wound care, body injuries, and environmental emergencies.

If you are ready to start a rewarding and brave career as a firefighter, contact FESTI today! With pre-firefighter training in Ontario, it is crucial to be prepared for any fire emergency situation. Come train with experienced firefighters at a live fire training facility. 

Register for a course or program by clicking here and complete the webpage registration. Or for more information about FESTI, contact us today.