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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.

The Importance of Investing in Fire Officer Development Training

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Fire Officer development training is key in ensuring each member of a fire department unit has the appropriate direction and tools to perform their duties in a safe and effective manner. Management of a fire department is only one aspect of a Fire Officer’s role within a fire and emergency response company.

Who Are Fire Officers?

A Company Officer, or Fire Officer, is a designated position at a level above a regular firefighter with the added responsibilities of management and leadership. A Fire Officer may hold the title of a Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, or Chief Officer.

Benefits of Investing in Fire Officer Development Training

There are several reasons why all fire departments need to be able to invest time and finances into training Fire Officers. With the increase of hazardous fire and emergencies across the country, all fire department budgets must be amended to include Fire Officer training programs.

Here’s what Fire Officer training programs offer: 

Polish the Skills of Fire Officers

As a Fire Officer, a person must be able to fully lead a team. This entails task assignments, management of day-to-day activities, and related leadership behaviours. A Fire Officer is both a manager and a leader in the operation of a firehall.

Improve the Ability to Efficiently Supervise Firefighters in Search and Rescue Missions

The Fire Officer holds both a direct and indirect influence on each member of the firefighting force albeit at the firehall or onsite of a search and rescue mission as well as at an active fire scene. Training can attribute to the ability to supervise in all capacities.

Prepare Them to Address Multiple Challenges on Fireground

During an active fire response situation, the Fire Officer must be able to properly manage the safety and response of the firefighters and other personnel. This includes the firefighters, facilities, and all equipment. 

Reduce the Number of Casualties in Fires

Knowing of the inner workings of a fire department can help reduce the risk of fire casualties. It is imperative that the Fire Officer manage and handle all team activities for an effective, safe, and competent fire culture, both on-site and within the physical location of the fire department.

What NFPA Standards Are Required to Become a Fire Officer?

To become a fire officer under the NFPA 1021 standards, there are specific training requirements within four levels of career development. It has been revised to encompass the latest operational practices, information management strategies, technologies, and other relative factors.

The levels include Fire Officer Level I (in a supervisory method), Fire Officer Level II (combining supervisory and managerial theories), Fire Officer Level III (in a managerial/administrative capacity), and Fire Officer Level IV (in a total administrative position).

Who Should Take NFPA 1021 Fire Officer Professional Training?

The NFPA 1021 Fire Officer professional program is available to all firefighters interested in furthering their career as a company officer. It is open to those who have completed the accredited courses of NFPA 1001 Fire Fighter II and NFPA 1041 Fire Service Instructor I. Most training programs will also require confirmation of membership from the candidate’s Fire Chief.

FESTI’s Online and In-house NFPA 1021 Fire Officer Training

As a world-class firefighter training academy, the Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) offers the NFPA 1021 Fire Officer training programs in-house and online. These modules are recognized by the Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) and the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC).

With dedicated instructors, we ensure each student has the proper training assistance to be successful. The fire officer programs comprise of classroom and hands-on practical exercises for module evaluations. Contact us to learn more about our training programs.

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.