Cavan Monaghan fire chief worried provincial standards will have financial impact on rural fire services

Cavan Monaghan fire chief worried provincial standards will have financial impact on rural fire services
By Todd Vankdonk
Peterborough This Week
Link to article: Cavan Monaghan fire chief worried provincial standards will have financial impact on rural fire services

Proposed provincial changes to the Fire Protection Prevention Act could have cost rural municipal volunteer fire departments far more for excelled training.

Under the new Act, as of January 2019, new hires will be required to be trained within 24 months for disciplines they are expected to perform while on duty. Township of Cavan Monaghan Fire Chief Bill Balfour believes 48 months is more realistic.

Balfour says the 24-month program would be challenging and add costs to the current fire department training.

“As it is now, we try to space it out and 24 months is going to be hard to achieve,” he says.

Should the province hold to this timeline, Balfour says a funding model should be put into place to offset the additional costs.

“There is not one cent of provincial or federal funding. When they make changes to legislation that effect municipalities without providing funding there is cause for concern,” says Balfour.

The Township has 50 volunteer firefighters, and was recently approved to increased that number to 60. He says the real implication could be further down the road when firefighters move on and the service has to recruit and train new candidates.

“It is a big commitment,” he says.

“Volunteers have full-time jobs and to be asked to do the additional training would mean we would have to speed up our training program,” he says.

The proposed Act does have a “grandfathering” clause that will cover current department members, but Balfour wants to see the Province pay for courses to obtain certification where there’s identified gaps. The Township will be asking the Province that the mandatory training and certification regulation not to come into force until at least 2020.

“This would allow council and Township fire services to make all the necessary training funding decisions,” Balfour said in his report to council last month.

“It will also enable the provincial government to provide necessary funding for training and liability identification 12 months prior to the regulations coming into effect.” 

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