Code of Professional Conduct

 

Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs Code of Professional Conduct.PDF

ONTARIO ASSOCIATION OF FIRE CHIEFS

Code of Professional Conduct
 
November 25, 2021

 

The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) represents the chief fire officers of the municipal and unorganized area fire departments in the Province of Ontario.  These chief officers are ultimately responsible, by statute, for the management and delivery of fire, rescue, and emergency response to over 14.5 million residents of Ontario.

The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs' mission is to provide leadership and support to the Ontario fire service through advocacy in service delivery, public and firefighter safety. We are the trusted leader in the fire service by inspiring and influencing a safer Ontario. To achieve this, we provide a recognized, authoritative voice for all matters relating to the management and delivery of fire and emergency services in Ontario.  We work cooperatively with the provincial government, key stakeholders, and other organizations to promote excellence and innovation in the areas of education and training, legislation and public policy, fire, and membership services. We are the trusted advisor to the provincial government, key stakeholders and media on matters relating to public and firefighter safety.

The following OAFC Code of Professional Conduct (“the Code”) is designed to ensure the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs preserves its integrity and credibility with the Association membership, all levels of government, affiliated organizations, the public, and the fire service.

This Code applies to our members, Board of Directors, committee members, volunteers, and all employees (permanent full-time, hourly, fixed-term contract, permanent part-time). 

Members, Board of Directors, committee/working group members, employees and volunteers of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs will, at all times, conduct themselves in a manner that:

  • Acts with fairness, honesty, integrity, and openness; respect the opinions of others and treat all with equality and dignity without regard to gender, race, colour, creed, ancestry, place of origin, political beliefs, religion, marital status, disability, age, or sexual orientation.
  • Supports the objectives, mission, vision, mandate, and goals of the Association.
  • Adhere to the Association’s by laws, policies, and procedures and support the decisions and directions of the elected Board of Directors, and its delegated authority, in particular this Code of Conduct, any Oath of Office, By Law No.1: Constitution, Conflict Resolution and Confidentiality-Conflict of Interest policies.
  • Serves the overall best interests of the Association, and the fire service, rather than any particular constituency.
  • Seek to uphold the reputation of the fire service profession, and the Association. Brings credibility and good will.  Will not engage in conduct that will bring the profession and/or Association into disrepute.
  • Respect’s principles of fair play and due process. Encourage and support colleagues, and other members.
  • Demonstrates respect for individuals in all manifestations of their cultural and linguistic diversity and life circumstances.
  • Respects and gives fair consideration to diverse and opposing viewpoints.
  • Demonstrates due diligence and dedication in preparation for an attendance at meetings, special events and in all other activities on behalf of the organization.
  • Demonstrates good faith, prudent judgment, honesty, transparency, and openness in their activities on behalf of the association.
  • Avoids real or perceived conflicts of interest.
  • Publicly demonstrates acceptance, respect and support of decisions legitimately taken in transaction of the association’s business.
  • Shall not commit an offence which brings discredit and/or embarrassment to other members of their profession, the fire service, and to the Association.
  • Shall not commit any offence or serious misconduct pertaining to the funds and/or property of any fire department or the Association.
  • Will not knowingly be party to the dissemination of false or misleading information and will not deliberately withhold information (except where the confidentiality of a third party is involved) relating to their collections or areas of expertise.
  • Shall have membership suspended, or terminated if guilty of a serious or improper action in the performance of his or her duties that brings discredit and/or embarrassment to other members, the Association, or affiliates of the Association.
  • Not falsify or intentionally misrepresent information in the performance of their official duties, or in connection with their membership with the Association.
  • Will not speak in the name of the Association without the consent of the OAFC Board of Directors.
  • Provide a positive and valued experience for those receiving service/consultation/guidance within, and outside the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs.
  • Act with honesty and integrity and in accordance with any professional standards and/or governing laws and legislation that have application to the responsibilities you perform for, with, or on behalf of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs.
  • Conforms with the National Firefighter Code of Ethics, as outlined in Appendix A.
Conflicts of Interest
 

In general, a conflict of interest exists for member, employee, board, committee/working group member, and volunteers and who use their position at the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs to benefit themselves, friends, family, or relatives.

Upon appointment of membership, employment, or appointment to the Board of Directors, committee/working groups, members/employees/board members/committee members shall arrange their private affairs in a manner that will prevent any conflict of interest from arising.  

A member, employee, board, committee/working group, or volunteers’ actions should not compromise or undermine our members or public’s trust in the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs.

Member, employee, board, committee/working group member, and volunteers should not place themselves in a position where they are, or appear to be, under personal obligation to any person who might benefit or seek to gain special consideration or favour resulting from the relationship.

Member, employee, board, committee/working group member, and volunteers shall avoid any situation in which there is, or may appear to be, a potential conflict which could appear to interfere with any judgment in making decisions in the best interest of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs.

Member, employee, board, committee/working group member, and volunteers shall exercise care in the management of their private affairs so as not to benefit, or be perceived to benefit from:

The use of information acquired solely by reason of their appointment/employment; or, any Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs transactions over which they can influence decisions (e.g. investment, borrowing, purchases, sales, contracts, grants, and appointments).

There are a variety of situations that could give rise to a conflict of interest. These include but are not limited to: accepting gifts, entertainment, favours or “kickbacks” from suppliers or other organizations, personal gain from relationships established through the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, close or family relationships with outside suppliers or other organizations, passing confidential information to competitors or other interested parties, or using confidential information inappropriately.

Confidentiality
 

Respect for confidentiality is the cornerstone of trust and confidence as well as an obligation.  Members, employees, directors, committee/working group member, and volunteers must at all times respect the confidentiality of any member, sponsor, employee, or member names and/or circumstances, and all matters dealt with at the Board relating to personnel. Respect and maintain the confidentiality of information gained as an employee or board members, including, but not limited to, all computer software and files, Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs business documents and printouts, and all membership, employee, candidate, and vendor records.

Confidentiality means members/employees/directors/volunteers/committee/working group members may not relate such matters to anyone including immediate family members

The duty of confidentiality continues indefinitely after you leave your appointment, employment, volunteer position or terminate membership.

Personal or Sexual Harassment
 

The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs is committed to providing a harassment-free environment for its employees, members, Board of Directors, committees/working groups and volunteers.  Mutual respect, along with cooperation and understanding, must be the basis of interaction between all members, directors, volunteers, staff and stakeholders.  The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs will neither tolerate nor condone behaviour that is likely to undermine the dignity or self-esteem of an individual, or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.  All members, directors and employees must adhere to the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs Code of Conduct.

There are several forms of harassment, and harassment includes any unwelcome action by any person, whether verbal or physical, on a single or repeated basis, which humiliates insults or degrades. “Unwelcome”, for the purposes of this policy, refers to any action which the harasser knows or ought to reasonably know is not desired by the victim of the harassment.

Harassment on the basis any protected ground under the Human Rights Code is strictly prohibited, including harassment on the basis of race.  Specifically, racial harassment includes any unwelcome comments, racist statements, slurs, jokes, graffiti, literature or pictures and posters which may intentionally or unintentionally offend another person on the basis of the individual’s race.

Sexual harassment includes any unwanted attention of a sexual nature such as remarks about appearance or personal life, offensive written or visual actions like graffiti or degrading pictures, physical contact of any kind, or sexual demands. 

Workplace Violence
 

Workplace violence is strictly prohibited and includes;

  • the exercise of physical force by a person against an employee, director, volunteer in a workplace that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker; or
  • an attempt to exercise physical force against an employee, director, volunteer in a workplace that could cause physical injury to the worker; or
  • a statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for an employee, director, volunteer to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against them in a workplace that could cause physical injury to the worker.  Further to the definition of violence, is the definition of abuse. Abuse can be verbal, psychological, or sexual in nature. Verbal abuse is the use of unwelcome, embarrassing, offensive, threatening, or degrading comments. Psychological abuse is an act which provokes fear or diminishes a person’s dignity or self-esteem. Finally, sexual abuse is any unwelcome verbal or physical advance or sexually explicit statement.

The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs has a zero-tolerance policy with regard to harassment and violence.  Employees, directors, or volunteers engaging in either harassing or violent activities will be subject to discipline, which may include termination of employment, removal from the Board and/or committees and possibly criminal charges.

Reporting and Investigating Workplace Harassment and Violence
 

All employees are encouraged to raise any concerns they may have about workplace violence and/or harassment and are expected to report any violent incidents, threats or harassment immediately.  The chart below outlines the reporting structure. 

  • Employee – Reports to immediate supervisor and/or Executive Director
  • Executive Director, Board Member, Member, Committee – Human Resources Committee
  • Volunteer – Executive Director

The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs emphasizes that there will be no negative consequences for reports made in good faith.  Reprisal against an individual who has filed a complaint in good faith, who has been named as a witness in a complaint, or who has participated or cooperated in an investigation, whether or not the complaint was substantiated and whether or not the complaint was resolved through the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs internal procedures, is prohibited, and could result in disciplinary action, up to and including removal of a director and or termination of employment (employee).

The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs pledges to investigate and deal with all incidents and complaints of workplace violence and harassment in a fair and timely manner, respecting the privacy of all concerned as much as possible.


APPENDIX A
 
Firefighter Code of Ethics
 
Developed by the National Society of Executive Fire Officers
 
Background
 

The Fire Service is a noble calling, one which is founded on mutual respect and trust between firefighters and the citizens they serve. To ensure the continuing integrity of the Fire Service, the highest standards of ethical conduct must be maintained at all times.

Developed in response to the publication of the Fire Service Reputation Management White Paper, the purpose of this National Firefighter Code of Ethics is to establish criteria that encourages fire service personnel to promote a culture of ethical integrity and high standards of professionalism in our field. The broad scope of this recommended Code of Ethics is intended to mitigate and negate situations that may result in embarrassment and waning of public support for what has historically been a highly respected profession.

Ethics comes from the Greek word ethos, meaning character. Character is not necessarily defined by how a person behaves when conditions are optimal, and life is good. It is easy to take the high road when the path is paved, and obstacles are few or non-existent. Character is also defined by decisions made under pressure, when no one is looking, when the road contains land mines, and the way is obscured. As members of the Fire Service, we share a responsibility to project an ethical character of professionalism, integrity, compassion, loyalty and honesty in all that we do, all of the time.

We need to accept this ethics challenge and be truly willing to maintain a culture that is consistent with the expectations outlined in this document. By doing so, we can create a legacy that validates and sustains the distinguished Fire Service institution, and at the same time ensure that we leave the Fire Service in better condition than when we arrived.

Firefighter Code of Ethics

I understand that I have the responsibility to conduct myself in a manner that reflects proper ethical behavior and integrity. In so doing, I will help foster a continuing positive public perception of the fire service. Therefore, I pledge the following…

  • Always conduct myself, on and off duty, in a manner that reflects positively on myself, my department and the fire service in general.
  • Accept responsibility for my actions and for the consequences of my actions.
  • Support the concept of fairness and the value of diverse thoughts and opinions.
  • Avoid situations that would adversely affect the credibility or public perception of the fire service profession.
  • Be truthful and honest at all times and report instances of cheating or other dishonest acts that compromise the integrity of the fire service.
  • Conduct my personal affairs in a manner that does not improperly influence the performance of my duties or bring discredit to my organization.
  • Be respectful and conscious of each member’s safety and welfare.
  • Recognize that I serve in a position of public trust that requires stewardship in the honest and efficient use of publicly owned resources, including uniforms, facilities, vehicles and equipment and that these are protected from misuse and theft.
  • Exercise professionalism, competence, respect and loyalty in the performance of my duties and use information, confidential or otherwise, gained by virtue of my position, only to benefit those I am entrusted to serve.
  • Avoid financial investments, outside employment, outside business interests or activities that conflict with or are enhanced by my official position or have the potential to create the perception of impropriety.
  • Never propose or accept personal rewards, special privileges, benefits, advancement, honors or gifts that may create a conflict of interest, or the appearance thereof.
  • Never engage in activities involving alcohol or other substance use or abuse that can impair my mental state or the performance of my duties and compromise safety.
  • Never discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, creed, age, marital status, national origin, ancestry, gender, sexual preference, medical condition or handicap.
  • Never harass, intimidate, or threaten fellow members of the service or the public and stop or report the actions of other firefighters who engage in such behaviors.
  • Responsibly use social networking, electronic communications, or other media technology opportunities in a manner that does not discredit, dishonor, or embarrass my organization, the fire service and the public. I also understand that failure to resolve or report inappropriate use of this media equates to condoning this behavior.

 

Developed by the National Society of Executive Fire Officers