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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.

How Does Hazmat Training Make the Fire Service Safer and More Effective?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Emergency calls to a residence, retail store, or a commercial building could result in a situation with hazardous materials. Stored fuels, toxic chemicals, and public use of explosives can be a disaster waiting to happen anywhere, at any time. With the potential for the unknown, every firefighter should have hazmat technician training.

What Is Meant by Hazmat?

Hazmat is the acronym for hazardous materials. Various governing bodies across the globe use the term for varying toxins, chemicals, fuels, nuclear waste products, and agents (biological, chemical, radiological) to describe hazardous materials. Any substance that poses a potential risk to the environment, property, and the safety and health of living creatures, especially humans is categorized as a hazmat.

What Is NFPA 472?

NFPA 472, now referred to as NFPA 1072 training and certification, is the core program that deals with emergency response to hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction. The program covers safety, assessment, proper notification procedures, use of the Emergency Response Guidebook, and mandate of the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre.

What Is the Difference Between NFPA 472 And NFPA 1072? 

In 2019, the training program known as NFPA 472 transitioned to NFPA 1072. Those with the NFPA 472 certification do not need to update to the “new” training level as the NFPA 472 remains valid as a prerequisite for all future NFPA programs.

How Many Different Levels of Hazardous Materials Response Are There?

There are four principle response levels for any hazardous material emergency. Each level holds definite guidelines and training specifications.

Awareness Level involves discovery of said situation, securing the area for safety, recognizing the type of materials involved, and alerting the proper authorities for response. The personnel may be security guards, administration members, police, and fire personnel.

Operations Level response sees the emergency response team of firefighters notified of the situation. Depending on their experience, they may begin the defensive response to the hazmat incident or be directed to secure and evaluate for the responding technicians.

Technician Level response has certified hazmat technicians take control of the situation by initiating the phases of stopping the exposure of the involved material.  

Specialist Level engages the use of a highly trained hazardous materials response team for situations involving specific hazardous materials, including those listed as weapons of mass destruction.

The Importance of Hazmat Training

Being prepared for hazardous materials emergency response is key for firefighters, medical response teams, police, military, and other emergency responders. Years ago, this type of training was limited to select firefighters and military personnel. Today, the risk for hazmat scenarios is high across the country with the development, transportation, and use of hazardous materials.

A hazmat situation can occur at the local grocery store or gas station, gardening centres, and even office buildings. While these locations tend to use hazardous materials that are known to the local emergency responders, including the fire department, what is stored on someone’s private property can be an unknown hazard. Comprehensive training and knowledge with the management of potential situations is crucial to every fire department and emergency responders.

Mandatory Certifications for Firefighters in Rescue Operations

The Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) offers certified programs and courses to new and existing firefighters and emergency responders. The hazmat training programs prepare candidates for assessing, handling, and managing of hazardous materials and the situations that occur.

Hazardous Materials Officer Program

For those in positions of Hazardous Materials Group Supervisor and Hazardous Materials Assistant Safety Officer, this training program focuses on the knowledge and skills within these fields. The organizational team of the Entry Team Leader, the Decon Team Leader, the Site Access Control Team Leader, and the Safe Refuge Area Manager and their roles are part of the course.

Hazmat Scene Management

In a hazardous material emergency, it is crucial for responders to know how to assess and take control over the management of the situation. The Hazmat Scene Management training program provides knowledge for risk control and actions within safety and legal requirements. Firefighters, military and government personnel, and other emergency responders will have case studies, activities, and exercises to learn appropriate decision-making.

CBRNE Hazardous Material Awareness 

As the only accredited program in North America for those working in and around chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive environments, the CBRNE Hazardous Material Awareness training meets the internationally recognized standards of NFPA 1072. Security personnel and first responders will learn how to identify suspicious packages and hazardous materials and the appropriate steps to initiate the safety of the environment and people nearby.

NFPA 1072 Hazardous Materials Awareness

As part of the NFPA 1072 awareness training, this course readies candidates for being first-on-the-scene of a hazardous materials incident. You will learn how to recognize potential problems and what action is needed to protect yourself and other involved parties. This course teaches how to collect hazard information and commence appropriate actions. 

NFPA 1072 Hazardous Materials Operations

It is imperative that every first responder understands the sequence of events that lead to a hazardous material operation and the safe and legal techniques to use in such a situation. The NFPA 1072 Hazardous Materials Operations training involves learning about PPE, how to assess an incident, and identify involved materials. You will learn about decontamination and provide incident and product control within the situation.

NFPA 1072 Hazardous Materials Technician

Successful completion of the NFPA 1072 Hazardous Materials Technician course prepares candidates with the theory and practical experience of protection of property, the environment, and people. You will have the information to respond efficiently to incident command, acts of terrorism, post-operation activities, and be knowledgeable in legislation and media capabilities.

Be prepared for any emergency response by contacting FESTI today! Our certified instructors and team offer these and other courses at our active firefighting training grounds at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

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