Friday May 3 - Presentation and Speaker Information

Friday May 3 - Presentation and Speaker Information

Friday May 3 - Presentation and Speaker Information


Keynote - Transitioning the Fire Service to PFAS-Free Alternatives: Trade-Offs in Exposure and Performance

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFAS, comprise a class of man-made toxic chemicals that have been used in thousands of consumer and industrial products and processes since their discovery in the mid-20th century. These chemicals have redefined the term "persistent" as they do not readily break down by natural processes and have been shown to bioaccumulate in plants, animals, and humans. They have been linked to multiple health conditions ranging from hypertension to cancer and are known to compromise the immune system. Dealing with these chemicals is a global issue, but there is heightened concern in the fire service due to the multiple potential routes of exposure that firefighters experience. PFAS compounds have been used on and within firefighter gear to impart oil and water repellency as well as the polymeric forms being the main constituents of moisture barriers. They have also been used extensively as aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) for combatting fuel fires, leading to dermal exposures and highly contaminated groundwater. In addition to these intentional sources of PFAS (those that serve a function or purpose for firefighting), firefighters are also faced with PFAS exposure from the fires that they are responding to as nearly every structure today contains multiple materials and products that are constructed with PFAS which will subsequently be released upon degradation in the fire. Recently, firefighters have led an intense effort demanding more accountability and transparency from organizations and manufacturers regarding the chemicals used in the production of their PPE, and they have demanded that these toxic chemicals be removed from their gear, since this is one source that can be controlled. Multiple research efforts have measured various volatile and non-volatile PFAS in both new and used gear. This presentation will provide a basic understanding of what PFAS compounds are, what properties they have, why they have been used in fire service applications, and what alternatives are being introduced. Additionally, NC State University's recent research on PFAS in the fire service will be detailed including assessments of both exposure and performance trade-offs between traditional gear and newer PFAS-free alternatives.  

Presenter: Dr. R. Bryan Ormond, NC State University 


Dr. R. Bryan Ormond is a researcher at NC State University's Textile Protection and Comfort Center (TPACC). Dr. Ormond has focused on developing test methods, standards, equipment, and ensembles for first responders and military personnel to address protection from chemical, particulate, and thermal hazards. His most recent research has centered on reducing firefighter exposure to toxic chemicals through developing particulate-blocking PPE, assessing gear cleaning methods, evaluating on-scene decontamination methods, and investigating the impacts of PFAS and PFAS-free finishes and materials on PPE performance.


Runnymede Healthcare Centre PTSI Centre of Excellence for First Responders

Join Connie Dejak and Dr. Candice M. Monson, for a presentation on Runnymede's ground breaking work in First Responder wellness. Ms. Dejak and Dr. Monson will discuss the launch of Canada's first, fully-dedicated Post Traumatic Stress Injury Centre of Excellence for First Responders and frontline healthcare workers. They will also share the inspiring journey behind this purpose-built facility, highlighting the need and the impact on frontline heroes, while discussing its clinical components. Discover how this collaborative initiative is transforming mental health for those who serve our communities.

Presenters: Connie Dejak, President and CEO of Runnymede Healthcare Centre and Dr. Candice M. Monson, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Toronto Metropolitan University



Connie Dejak has been President of Runnymede Healthcare Centre since 2006, overseeing a dynamic and growing rehabilitation and complex continuing care hospital in Toronto’s west end. Her visionary leadership shines through her advocacy for Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) services, where she is driving the establishment of a groundbreaking PTSI Centre of Excellence for First Responders. Connie's dedication to addressing critical healthcare needs reflects her commitment to improving the well-being of those she serves and her role as a catalyst for positive change in the community.

Connie's dedication to community enhancement is evident through her roles as Chair of the Board of Directors of Ontario Cannabis and as a former Director on the Boards of Governors for Ontario Place Corporation and Exhibition Place.



Candice M. Monson, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at Toronto Metropolitan University. She is one of the foremost experts on traumatic stress and the use of individual and conjoint therapies for PTSD. Dr. Monson has received numerous awards for her clinical, teaching, and research contributions, including Fellow status in the Canadian and American Psychological Associations and Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and induction into the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Monson has published over 170 peer-reviewed publications and co-authored 8 books, including the treatment manuals Cognitive Processing Therapy: A Comprehensive Manual and Cognitive-Behavioral Conjoint Therapy for PTSD. Dr. Monson is well-known for her clinical training and therapy dissemination efforts.

"Nobody is reading your emails"

Are you looking for new and innovative ways to communicate with the members of your Fire Service?

The days of long-worded emails are over. We live in a video-centric world where the average attention span has decreased by 25% since the year 2000.

Join Ottawa Fire Service’s Chief Paul Hutt and PIO Nick DeFazio to discover how they revamped their Service’s Communications strategy to more effectively reach its members.

Presenters: Fire Chief Paul Hutt and Public Information Officer Nicholas DeFazio, Ottawa Fire 


Chief Paul Hutt was introduced to the Fire Service in 1993 and never looked back.  In 2006, he assumed the role of Sector Chief within the Ottawa Fire Services and served in that capacity until 2011. In 2011, he accepted the role as Director of Emergency Services/Fire Chief with the Municipality of North Grenville. In 2016, he returned to the Ottawa Fire Services as the Deputy Chief of Urban Operations and Special Operations. In 2022, he was honored to have been appointed Fire Chief of the Ottawa Fire Services.

Chief Hutt received his Executive Leadership Development Certification from the Telfer Executive Program at the University of Ottawa and his Master Certification in Municipal Leadership from York University’s Schulich School of Business. He has a diploma in Fire Protection Technology from the Ontario Fire College and also received the status of Certified Municipal Manager from the Ontario Municipal Management Institute with the status of Fire Service Executive, CMM III. He previously served three years on the Ontario Association of Fire Chief’s Board of Directors.



Nick DeFazio has been the Public Information Officer (PIO) for the Ottawa Fire Services since 2021. After completing a degree at the University of Ottawa, followed by pre-service Fire College, Nick joined the University of Ottawa’s Emergency Services Department. The highlight of his time working at the University was receiving an innovation award from the President of the University to improve student safety on campus. Nick joined the Ottawa Fire Services in 2011 as a Dispatcher and served in that capacity for 10 years. In 2022, Nick won the Fire Chief’s Award of Excellence for his new and innovative strategies that he implemented as the PIO.


Unfriendly Fire - A Sure-Footed Escape Route for a Fire Chief

This presentation will cover:

  • What a Fire Chief should do when under fire.

  • The importance of having a carefully negotiated Employment Agreement.

  • Legal representation and the best approach to negotiating the terms of employment.

  • Key considerations and terms for negotiation.

  • Responding to harassment and other investigations.

  • Negotiating a fair severance package when the axe falls.

Presenter: John Gibson


John E.F. Gibson is an Employment  Lawyer with over 40 years’ experience who has his own firm in midtown Toronto.  He has developed special expertise in the negotiation and preparation of employment agreements and severance packages, the mediation and resolution of disputes arising out of the employment relationship, and the prosecution and defence of wrongful dismissal actions.  His practice is relatively evenly split between the representation of employers and employees.  He brings a principled and practical approach to employment issues with a view to achieving successful results for his clients expeditiously and cost-efficiently.

John has been representing Fire Chiefs and Deputy Fire Chiefs for 18 years, assisting them with the negotiation of their Employment Agreements, representing them in the context of workplace investigations, and negotiating severance packages on their behalf.  He also acted as Co-Counsel in the defence of Two-hatters who were subject to prosecution by the IAFF.  He was fortunate to have the opportunity to act as one of the principal drafters of the amendments to the Fire Protection and Prevention Act that prohibit a municipality from discharging a firefighter and prohibit an association from suspending, expelling, or disciplining a firefighter because of their work as a volunteer firefighter.


Building Leaders and Driving Change 

Fire Service Women Ontario (FSWO) is a valued resource and advocate for gender diversity, upholding their mission to encourage, educate and empower women in the fire service. During this presentation, FSWO will highlight the organization’s commitment to empowering women to become effective leaders and agents of change. FSWO will invite continued partnership to inspire action and drive the Fire Service towards a more inclusive future.

Presenter: Pike Krpan, Kristy-Lynn Pankhurst, and Susan Jones


Pike Krpan is a career firefighter with the City of Hamilton since 2013. They currently serve the firefighting community as FSWO President. Pike is one of 15 participants selected for the third cohort of the IAFC Diversity Executive Leadership Program (iDELP) program, where they will develop the FSWO role as a subject matter expert in gender equity in the fire service by contributing to the latest DEI research and initiatives. Pike brings a varied background to their career in the fire service. They completed their Masters of Arts at the Ontario Institute of Education in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, with a focus on women's issues in education. Previously, they worked in international development education in diverse countries such as Cuba, Ecuador and Jamaica after getting their undergraduate degree in International Development and Women's Studies at Trent University.


Kristy-Lynn Pankhurst is the Community Outreach and Professional Development Officer with Scugog Fire & Emergency Services, and the Secretary of FSWO. Kristy-Lynn is currently pursuing her Master of Education in World Indigenous Studies at Queen’s University, exploring educational practices that honour and uplift Indigenous perspectives while preventing fires and other emergencies. Kristy-Lynn’s academic journey reflects her dedication to fostering inclusive educational environments that respect and integrate diverse groups. Kristy-Lynn champions the importance of effective communication in driving collaboration, camaraderie, and positive change in the Fire Service.


Susan Jones is the Executive Director of FSWO. Retired from the City of Ottawa, with 37 years in municipal government, Susan's roles included General Manager of Emergency and Protective Services and Acting Deputy City Manager of City Operations, where she oversaw various departments. Throughout her career, Susan has championed women in leadership, notably in male-dominated professions. She played a pivotal role in launching initiatives like Fire Service Women Ontario (FSWO) and Camp FFIT (Female Fire Fighters in Training), and served on the FSWO board of directors and as an International Trustee with the International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services (iWomen). Susan is deeply committed to FSWO, where she received the President’s Trailblazer Award in 2016 for her groundbreaking work and innovative leadership in advocating for women in the first responder field.





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