The Ontario Fire Marshal's Office has devised 25 recommendations that will help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of fire prevention services conducted in Greater Sudbury.
While Greater Sudbury Fire Services is conducting many of the required activities in accordance with the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, the OFM has identified opportunities to increase the safety of the public and frontline fire service personnel and to reduce liability to the municipality.
The review focused on the Establishing and Regulating bylaw to determine the level of fire prevention services the city provides, risk assessment to identify all high and extreme risks in the municipality, fire inspection practices and protocols, public education programs, fire investigations and current pre-plans for all high and extreme risks. The final component of the review delved into the interaction between various city services.
Included in the recommendations, the OFM suggests the city designates sufficient staff to ensure enforcement of municipal bylaws on a 24-hour basis including municipal fire-related bylaws. Another recommendation suggests the integration and deployment of fire prevention staff for all areas of the city to improve efficiencies, reduce travel time and increase inspections.
“The number of recommendations isn't indicative of whether or not the fire department is doing a good job or a bad job, rather, we just found areas where they can improve,” Art Booth, regional operations manager for the OFM, said following his presentation to the city's community services committee. “Unfortunately, what we don't recognize in this type of review is the 50 or 60 items the fire department is doing exceptionally well and doesn't require any mention. That needs to be put into context.”
For a city the size of Greater Sudbury, coming out with 25 recommendations is about average, he said. The OFM interviewed 25 to 30 people throughout the review.
The OFM lumped together all of the recommendations, and it's now up to the city to go through those recommendations and prioritize them, Booth said.
It's a task to which Fire Chief Dan Stack looks forward. He said the review was requested, because, as the new chief, he “felt it was necessary to move forward with respect to having an effective fire prevention service throughout the city.”
“We needed to see where we were in the fire prevention division, and to determine how to move forward and do a better job,” he said. “These recommendations are achievable, but we will have to work really hard at it. With the people we have in place, I think that can be done.”
Fire services continue to evolving, with more and more responsibilities being put on the plate, he said, which results in more liabilities.
“I think these recommendations are well warranted,” Stack said. “I have been around the fire services for 34 years, and there are always areas that need improvement. There are deficiencies, and we need to get better at serving the public. That's priority No. 1, and by having the audit and the OFM assisting us, it's a great thing for the fire service.”
Stack said he will now go over the recommendations with chief fire prevention officers and fire prevention crews to set the guidelines. A lot of the ideas are already in place, now it's just a matter of finalizing them with some operating guidelines. That will essentially “close the loop” on a lot of gaps identified in the service, he said.
“I believe my guys always do their jobs well, but we can always get better. It's a work in progress, and we have to be able to adapt to what's happening throughout fire services
Once the fire service has gone through the recommendations and prioritized them, staff will present it to city council for final approval.
Posted by Arron Pickard