Section 21

Health & Safety Section 21


The objective of the Ontario Fire Service Advisory Committee on Occupational Health & Safety
under Section 21 of the Occupational Health & Safety Act is to advise and make recommendations on matters relating to the occupational health and safety of all firefighters in the Province of Ontario.

Secondary Objectives:

To develop a Manual of Health and Safety Guidance Notes for fire services in Ontario. This manual will outline recommended equipment and procedures to be used by workers in the fire service to prevent injury or illness, and will comply with the intent and provisions outlined in the Act.

To ensure, as far as is possible, that the guidance is applicable and acceptable to both employers and workers in Ontario, and results in improved information being available to the fire service, to assess equipment and procedures against recommended practice.


The committee will be composed of an equal number of representatives from management and labour, as outlined below. The committee will be co-chaired by representatives selected from each side, with secretariat being provided by the Ministry of Labour.

For labour:
Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association      4
Fire Fighters’ Association of Ontario                      2

For management:
Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs                         4
Association of Municipalities of Ontario                 2


  • Decision will be by consensus of the members in attendance, rather than by voting.
  • Matters for which no consensus can be achieved will be fully reported, with explanation to the Ministry of Labour through the Director, Industrial Health and Safety Program.
  • The Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Public Safety and Security will provide technical support
  • Non-members may attend committee meetings at the call of the co-chairmen and with the agreement of the committee.
  • Committee members, alternates who attend on behalf of members, as well as members of task forces and/or technical committees, will be paid reasonable expenses in accordance with the Management Board of Cabinet Guidelines (S 4-1 and S6-1, respectively).
  • Alternates will attend on behalf of committee members, only when it is impossible for the regular member to attend.
  • Agendas will include matters that impact on the health and safety of all fire fighters in the Province of Ontario. Matters for inclusion on the agenda will be submitted to the co-chairmen one month before a scheduled meeting of the committee. Either co-chairman may include matters on the agenda. The Director of the Industrial Program of the Ministry of Labour may include matters on the agenda.
  • A steering committee shall be established, consisting of the co-chairmen and the Director of the Industrial Health and Safety Program (IHSP). A chairman will be selected from within this group. The purpose of this committee will be to ensure the proper administration of functions of the Joint Advisory Committee, including setting of agendas.
  • Meetings by the Section 21 Committee will be on a quarterly basis.
  • The Section 21 Committee shall appoint a task force, and/or technical committee, by way of consensus.

Activities of the Committee

The Ontario Fire Service Health and Safety Advisory Committee was established February 6, 1989, to deal with health and safety issues as they arise in the fire service sector.  Earlier versions of this committee have served this purpose since 1980.

This bipartite committees agendas are set at a meeting between co-chairs and the MOL, one month before a scheduled meeting. Other MOL observers/advisors attend as necessary.
The committees mission is to:

  • Reduce risk of injury, death, and illness in the fire service.
  • Foster the Internal Responsibility System (IRS).
  • Promote consistent compliance with the Act, in fire services in Ontario.
  • Provide advice to the Minister of Labour regarding enforcement, regulations, policy, etc., for the fire service.
  • Resolve health and safety issues that arise in the fire service.

Task Groups are established from time-to-time, to perform specific tasks. One such task group developed this guidance manual.

Members are encouraged to conduct their own investigations/research and obtain advice from appropriate parties, as deemed necessary.

Some of the issues that the Section 21 Committee has successfully dealt with in the past include: application and wording of the protective equipment regulation for fire fighters; certification and testing of protective clothing; vehicle requirements; hiring of fire service special projects officer; and heat stress.