Sunday July 01, 2012

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Diesel Exhaust as Cancerous as Asbestos, says WHO [Jun 19/12]

I suspect many of us remember the days when the 626 Health and Safety Committee were concerned with exhaust fumes in the fire halls. The work and perseverance of guys like Jimmy Johnson, Wayne Harris and others were eventually responsible for the truck exhaust systems we know today. Well, like everything its not until years later we find out the real consequences. “The (expert) working group found that diesel exhaust is a cause of lung cancer and also noted a positive association with an increased risk of bladder cancer,”

Here's the whole article by the Toronto Star.

Reunion Lunch [June 19/12]

Its been some 14 years since that last meeting of Local 626 and the merging into a new Local 3888. So to see so many familiar faces after all the years was nothing short of great. June 14th was the day and it saw the first annual Scarborough Fire Fighters Reunion well attended. The meal was good and the camaraderie even better. To be able to reconnect with the long retired and those still active was enjoyable. Things got going around 11:30am and the pub quickly filled, it saw the likes of Ted Barnes, Barry Papaleo, Bob McWhinnie, Ted Paget, Ray Green, Noel Winders, Dave Spence, Jim Bredin, Frank Pagnello and many others conversing on the past, present and future. The presentation to myself of a golf shirt and ball cap emblazoned with the 626 crest for hosting this website was a surprise and very much appreciated - thankyou all. Without rambling on, I believe a good time was had by all - stay tuned for the next one.

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Update - Scarborough Firefighters Reunion Lunch [June 5/12]

Apparently there's been many rsvp's for this 1st annual event, but there can never be too many. As mentioned previously, for some Scarborough Firefighters October 1998 marked the end of one era and the beginning of another. Fourteen years have quickly passed, and what better time than now to reconnect with some fellow 626ers. So lets mark our calendars and rsvp our intentions to attend (asap) and make this a record setting first reunion. The 1st Annual Scarborough Firefighters Annual Reunion Lunch is to take place on June 14th. The location is the Harp and Crown (Altona Rd & Kingston Rd., Pickering) - Start time 11:30ish. Cost is $10.00 and includes a roast beef lunch. A head count is necessary to place the order for food, so please RSVP Roy Fletcher - 416-261-006; John Vonk - 905-509-2953 or e-mail Al Adams   (
Hope to see you there - spread the word.

Firefighters Combating Cancer 20-12 Golf Tournament [Apr 12/12]
For the Benefit of the Princess Margaret Foundation for Cancer Research

Tuesday, May 29th - 8:00 Shot-Gun Start - Sleepy Hollow Country Club, 13242, 10th Line Stouffville.
Registration Form and further details available

Paul Kennedys Ride to Conquer Cancer [Apr 12/12]

I am riding in my 5th and Final Ride to Conquer Cancer on June 9th and 10th
I have thoroughly enjoyed the past 4 years, in which you have raised
$23,000.00 for Cancer Research.
I am hoping that we ,together, can raise $7000.00 this year and surpass the
$30,000.00 mark.
That would be a fitting conclusion to OUR support for Princess Margaret
Hospital Campbell Family Institute.
There are other rides that have peaked my interest, and I will explore them
in the future.
I thank you for your overwhelming support and congratulate you on your
unbelievable contributions

Please support me by going to my Ride to Conquer Cancer Page

Recent Promotions [Apr 8/12]

Congrats go out to Doug Jones (660); Ilmar Lepik (662); Mark Ashcroft (663); Dean Weare (664); Gerry Loftus (#665); Mike Decker (666) and Johnston Martin (668) on their promotion to Captain with the TFS.

Recent Retirements [Feb 26/12]

After 32 or more years four more decide to call it a day. Best wishes to Jim Kirwin, Rob Reid, Tom Ansell and Ron Bennett in their retirements.

Could the future of Fire be Partimers?? [Jan 18/12]

Never mind that the logistics of having part timers trained to the same level as full timers may be a challenge of its own. It wasn't long ago the idea of part time firefighters in a full time career department would have been unheard of. However with a city looking for savings, the passing of the following amendment at the recent City of Toronto budget meeting would indicate that there are many councilors who may favour the idea. The question is will it grow any legs to go anywhere before (or after) the next election.

21b - Motion to Amend Motion moved by Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday (Carried)
That motion 16a by Councillor Layton be amended by including in the report the effect on response times by hiring part time firefighters, and interim results available from the Fire/EMS Efficiency Study.

Vote (Amend Motion)
Jan-17-2012 7:20 PM

Result: Carried Majority Required - EX14.1 - Holyday - motion 21b
Yes: 30 Paul Ainslie, Ana Bailão, Michelle Berardinetti, Josh Colle, Gary Crawford, Vincent Crisanti, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Mike Del Grande, Frank Di Giorgio, Doug Ford, Rob Ford, Mark Grimes, Doug Holyday, Norman Kelly, Chin Lee, Gloria Lindsay Luby, Giorgio Mammoliti, Josh Matlow, Joe Mihevc, Peter Milczyn, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Frances Nunziata (Chair), Cesar Palacio, John Parker, James Pasternak, Jaye Robinson, David Shiner, Karen Stintz, Michael Thompson, Adam Vaughan
No: 14 Maria Augimeri, Shelley Carroll, Raymond Cho, Janet Davis, Sarah Doucette, John Filion, Paula Fletcher, Mary Fragedakis, Mike Layton, Pam McConnell, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Gord Perks, Anthony Perruzza, Kristyn Wong-Tam
Absent: 1 Ron Moeser

Retirement Celebration - Daryl Wright [Jan 12/12]

Starting with the Scarborough Fire Department in June of 1984, he was stationed at Hall #8 (now 232), later moving to Hall #7 (231). Today Daryl Wright is a District Chief in the Communications Division with TFS. As with many others Daryl has decided its time to relax and is retiring. A celebration to wish him well in his future is planned for Wednesday February 8th (from 5pm onwards) at the Fox and Fiddle on Finch just east of Keele Street. Tickets are $20 for food and including gift and are available from Rayanne 416 577 0072 or pay at the door.

Tough Choices - Labours Pain [Jan 10/12]

Its no secret that unions are under a lot of pressure in the United States. Some giving huge concessions and many even having their right to bargain legislated away. History has shown that what happens south of the border eventually makes it way north. The City Of Toronto is in the midst of some tough budget decisions and there's even talk of workers being locked out. With that in mind this documentary by City TV (Tough Choices - Labour Pains) gives some insight as to where things may be head here. It speaks not only about unions and if they are even needed, but also Pensions and there affordability. Its about an hour long, whether you're stilll working or retired its an interesting watch. Tough Choices - Labours Pain

Retirements [Aug 31/11]

Well three more find its time to take a breather after 30+ years Ken Turner (Sen # 485) Bill Hill (Sen #519) and Steve Harder (Sen #566) have decided to retire. Best wishes to you on your retirement.

Fire Fighter Wellness [Aug 7/11]

It was recently mentioned that a number of our retirees and/or their sons or daughters who are now active firefighters may not be aware of the wellness initiative put forth by the TPFFA Local 3888 and the TFS. In an effort to help make more of us are aware of this initiative the wellness letters for firefighters and their doctor along with the important Suggested Annual Medical Screening Components for Firefighters are available here. Its important to note that this initiative is to further the health and wellness of the fire fighter and is meant to be confidential between them and their practioner.

Promotions and Retirements [July 18/11]

Best wishes for a great future go out to Hans Leppik (#417), Bruce MacFarlane (#540) anfd John Poirier (#586) on their retirements as of June 30/11. As we slowly move towrds the end of the SFD seniorty list its time once again to congratulate Morgan Dixon (#653), Jeff David (#654), Baris Lang (#655), Mark Orrett (#657), Richard Stuart (#658) and Darren Van De Walker (#659) on their promotion to Captain with the TFS.

Where's the Solidarity? [July 16/11]

One understands the fear that the word 'cuts' can have when it comes to jobs. But I always thought union brothers/sisters stood together. In Wisconsin and other places across the United States you see Police Fire EMS and all of Labour standing side by side fighting for the common good. Yet when the word "cuts" gets thrown around here in Ontario, the other Unions are quick to cut the legs out from under anyone to protect themselves. It happened during the Rae Days and now from reading this article it seems we're seeing it again. So much for soilidarity!

National Post - 'We're in a war with the...'

National Post - Q&A: Rumblings of resentment are just that, Toronto Fire Chief says

Retiree News - Benefit Info [Jan 21/11]

Roy Fletcher has mentioned that a few of our retirees are fast approaching the age of 65, (just a few!) This is when our benefits are cut off and we must make our own provisions for further coverage of everything from dental to travel insurance. Roy has availed the services of Holly Murphy from Encon Group who will attend the February 10th luncheon and is prepared to answer all our questions regarding extended benefits.

Those who have not yet retired are more than welcome to attend and perhaps get a greater insight into how to prepare for retirement. A reminder will go out to those on the mail list as it gets closer to the date. PLEASE r.s.v.p. if you plan to attend in order to determine the amount of food required.

Fighting fatigue, and fires

The effects of shift work, particularly the frequent changeover between day and night shifts, on personal health and safety are well-documented. Less is known about the effects specific to firefighters, but the trend to 24-hour shifts has swept through Ontario departments. Now Winnipeg firefighters are considering putting the shift change on the table at contract negotiations this fall. Who will benefit?

Is a firefighter on the 20th straight hour sufficiently alert to respond to an emergency? Is he or she better prepared than a counterpart who is on the second of consecutive 14-hour night shifts, as happens in Winnipeg now?

A tiny body of research, largely that of an occupational health specialist in Wisconsin, favours 24-hour shifts over the alternative combination of 10-hour and 14-hour shifts many departments use. The specialist, Linda Glazner, also qualifies that the 24-hour shifts work best when there is a long break between them and when firefighters get to sleep during their shifts. Further, one rotation model for the 24-hour shift option allows a five-day break.

That sleep time is not possible, according to the Winnipeg firefighters' union, which believes this city's fire departments are the busiest in Canada. No firefighters nap during their shifts, says union president Alex Forrest. The concern, then, is how the city's busy stations can adapt to the 24-hour shift. Mr. Forrest speculates the current rehab system, which sees units from other, less busy stations spell off firefighters who have had hectic shifts, might be expanded.

Mr. Forrest says the discussion in Winnipeg (a referendum will be held in a couple of months as to whether moving to 24-hour shifts becomes a bargaining item) is split roughly between younger and older members. Younger firefighters are better at weathering the longer shifts, some have found, while older members are worried a 24-hour shift would compound the fatigue that sets in after a 14-hour shift to the detriment of their health and ability to serve.

Most firefighters in the United States work 24-hour shifts and a number in Canada are following suit of their Ontario counterparts. The longer shifts bring management issues -- how do you calculate sick time when a firefighter misses 24 hours of work? But more importantly, that a significant minority is opposed to 24-hour shifts cannot be discounted. If a quarter of the workforce is unable to maintain the pace, the quality of emergency service would suffer.

Other jurisdictions have used lengthy pilot projects to test the 24-hour shift. Chief Jim Brennan must weigh the scant research that supports moving to longer work periods against the impact on his firefighters and paramedics (who would need to be consulted as well), not all of whom are ready for a dramatic shift in shifts.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 2, 2011 A10


Firefighters face increasing peril as vacant death traps proliferate

From Globe and Mail Jan. 07, 2011 3:00AM EST

A lone figure wearing a backpack was caught on surveillance cameras entering the historic Empress Hotel building before the massive blaze early Monday morning which gutted it, The Globe and Mail has learned.

The information is part of the Toronto Police-Ontario Fire Marshal investigation into the six-alarm fire which at one point saw two Toronto firefighters fall from the roof of an adjacent building into the very heart of the inferno.

While two crews on ladder trucks directed water onto the fallen men to keep the flames at bay, the department’s RIT squads – rapid intervention teams whose sole job is to save their fellows when they are in trouble – lowered water-filled hoses the fallen men held onto while their colleagues hoisted them to safety.

Although the two were later discharged from hospital with minor injuries, theirs was a shockingly close call and a grim reminder that many Canadian cities and their fire departments are ill-prepared for an onslaught which may be just around the corner.

In the United States, fires in vacant buildings such as the structure at Yonge and Gould Streets in downtown Toronto account for fully 75 per cent of firefighter deaths.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, which two years ago released an alert about the issue, 96 firefighters across the U.S. died, and another 106 were injured, at “structure fires” between January, 1998, and February, 2007. Fifty-four of the 71 fires occurred in unoccupied buildings, accounting for 72 of the 96 deaths and 94 of the 106 injuries.

As a reminder of the veracity of those statistics, just before Christmas two Chicago firefighters died, trapped when a wall and roof collapsed in a fire at an abandoned building on the city’s South Side. The building had been vacant for years, the gas and water turned off, but firefighters feared squatters might be inside and went in after them.

It is one of the awful, split-second decisions firefighters have to make all the time – as the NIOSH bulletin put it, will “we risk our lives a lot, in a calculated manner, to save savable lives” or “a little” to save savable lives, or not at all “for a building or lives that are already lost?”

But fires in vacant buildings render those decisions all the more difficult “because of all the unknowns,” said Fred LeBlanc, president of the 11,300-member Ontario Professional Firefighters Association and a Kingston firefighter.

Arriving crews may not know if the building has fire protection or standpipe systems and if they’re disabled; if the utilities are on or off; if the floors are compromised; if the exits and entrances are boarded. In addition, Mr. LeBlanc said, in these situations crews don’t even get witness reports from “people running out to give us details” about where the fire started.

Crews may be left with only rumours or sightings of squatters who often light fires for heat or light. Such reports may be inaccurate, but with a reactive group like firefighters, whose instincts and training are to rush toward danger as others flee it, it may be enough to propel them into peril.

Ironically, even the one measure fire departments and North American cities routinely require – the boarding up of abandoned buildings – not only may fail to dissuade squatters, but also poses an impediment to firefighters running out of air or trying to get out.

“There’s a high probability [in these situations] that firefighters will become disoriented or trapped in these [vacant] buildings,” Rob Simonds, president of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs and the chief in Saint John, told The Globe in a telephone interview.

While dilapidated urban cores and desolated downtowns have been widespread in some American cities for years, their Canadian counterparts have been spared until recently, with Toronto in particular long proud of its vibrant inner core. But the economic slowdown has begun to be felt across Canada, especially in towns and cities in Ontario, the country’s former industrial heartland.

Among the key recommendations in the NIOSH bulletin was for fire departments to become pro-active about risk management – conduct regular inspections of vacant buildings; enter that information into the dispatch computer so responding crews get it; work with other agencies to identify unoccupied buildings.

Yet there isn’t even a central data-collecting agency for fire statistics in Canada, and only a few municipalities where fire departments are even attempting the shift from a reactive – if frankly heroic – traditional model to a pro-active one.

Niagara Falls, Ont., where more than 25 per cent of structure fires in the city occur in vacant buildings, is probably furthest along that path. Using the Ontario Fire Code as the hammer – it says “Vacant buildings shall be secured against unauthorized entry” – the department works with local police to find unoccupied buildings, immediately inspects them, orders them secured – and then vigorously prosecutes owners who fail to comply. Just last month, the Ontario Divisional Court upheld one such order on a vacant building.

As Deputy Chief Jim Jessop told The Globe in a phone interview, his department has prosecuted more than two dozen cases, won fines of as much as $25,000 against owners, received the okay to demolish seven buildings, and, with a number of larger abandoned factories and warehouses, forced owners to take and pay for extraordinary measures such as installing security fences, removing all combustibles and cementing entrances.

The situation which galvanized Niagara Falls was the last fire at a vacant house in the city in 2004. There had been others, but, Deputy Chief Jessop said, the department handled the case in the traditional way, what he called, “Board up, speak to the owner, and wait for the next fire.”

That came after the place had been turned into a crack house by squatters. Firefighters were crawling over 6,000 dirty needles and pulling them out of their gear afterwards.

But Hamilton, has taken perhaps the most sweeping approach. Two years ago, the city created a “vacant building protocol,” where abandoned properties were regularly inspected. Within a year – stung by the demolition of a historic theatre – the city moved to give its protocol bite.

On Oct. 13, city council passed a “vacant building registry bylaw,” which requires owners of any property vacant for 90 days – residential, commercial or industrial – to register it with the city for a fee. The intention, Marty Hazell, senior director of parking and bylaw services, “is to pro-actively monitor the buildings on our list once every three months” to protect them from deterioration “and ultimately encourage re-use or occupancy.”

In addition, on the same day, council approved asking the province to review legislation which makes the owners of vacant commercial or industrial buildings eligible for municipal tax rebates. This legislation dates back to 2001, and city officials believe that in addition to the costs – counting the educational portion, Hamilton rebated more than $3-million in 2009 – the rebate program acts as a disincentive to downtown renewal.

The plague of abandoned homes isn’t confined to large urban areas. Chief Simonds said his department is now working with Saint John council towards taking a Niagara Falls-type approach. “If we have a line-of-duty death, it will be too late,” he said.

With a population of 130,000 in the Greater Saint John area, the fire department already has tracked 101 vacant buildings – many small tenements –and integrated the information onto its database. “This is absolutely the way of the future,” he said. “As stewards of public safety, we need to keep our finger on the pulse of this situation.”

Part of the difficulty is that with the gap in national data collection, neighbouring municipalities may be operating in the dark about new initiatives taken just down the road. Chief Jessop was completely unaware what Hamilton, for instance, has been doing. The two cities are just 45 minutes apart.

But as Chief Jessop said, push come to shove, “It’s going to be our guys there on their hands and knees in the heat and the smoke and the darkness. It’s not going to be a building inspector or someone from public health.”

Toronto, where the old Empire Hotel is no more, doesn’t have a vacant building registry of any sort. Nor do officials, said Blair Hawkins, senior communications co-ordinator with the city, have an estimate of how many empty structures there are in Toronto.

But the city processes about 2,100 vacancy tax rebate applications a year – though, Mr. Hawkins cautioned, that number includes entire buildings and buildings with vacant units.
Link to -
Firefighters face increasing peril as vacant death traps proliferate

The Burning Question [Dec 24/10]]

Some firefighting experts think seven 24-hour shifts a month is best. Others say it makes it ‘a well-paid part-time job.’
by Colby Cosh on Thursday, December 23, 2010 1:00pm

The above article by Cosh seems to just tell it like it is - yet there's no doubt some may be irked by any article remotely similiar, others tend to agree whole heartedly. Judge for yourself you can read the entire article at

Manitoba Firefighters to get breast cancer coverage.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010 | 5:59 PM CST
CBC News

Manitoba is about to become the first province in Canada to recognize breast cancer as an occupational risk to female firefighters.

That means it will be added to the list of recognized job hazards, opening the door to provincial compensation, with the expectation that the coverage will be introduced in the Manitoba legislature on Tuesday, said Alex Forrest, president of the Winnipeg firefighters union.

He said three other cancers will also be recognized in the legislation: prostate cancer, melanoma, and multiple myeloma.

About 40 Winnipeg firefighters currently suffering from those cancers will now be able to seek compensation under the new legislation, Forrest said.

"The firefighter's family, if that firefighter dies of that cancer, the family's looked after from [the province's Workers' Compensation Board] in the same way as if a firefighter falls through a floor in a fire," he said.

Manitoba leads the way
Several other cancers are already recognized by provincial legislation as being linked to firefighting. Manitoba was one of the first provinces to offer such coverage in 2002, and it was followed by almost all others.

Firefighters are routinely exposed to toxic fumes and gases released by burning plastics and synthetic materials.

The risk of developing breast cancer is three to five times greater in a female firefighter than in the general population, Forrest said, noting "at every fire there are more than 200 known carcinogens that are connected to breast cancer."

The Winnipeg Fire Department has 43 female firefighters — second only to Toronto in the country.

Cancers initially covered by Manitoba after the 2002 legislation was introduced to include primary site brain cancer, bladder or kidney cancer, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or leukemia.

That coverage was expanded in 2005 to include colon or ureter cancers and lung cancer in non-smokers, as well as heart attacks within 24 hours of emergency responses.





December 18, 2009 Issue No. 31


The Facts:

After municipalities in the Toronto area amalgamated and formed the City of Toronto in 1998, salary increases for firefighters were established by an interest arbitration board chaired by Martin Teplitsky. However, while all firefighters from the former municipalities were eventually brought to the same salary level, Etobicoke firefighters did not achieve full parity with the other firefighters until January 1, 2001. The Etobicoke firefighters maintained that full parity should have been awarded to them in 1998, thus entitling them to greater retroactivity.

Litigation ensued between the Etobicoke firefighters, the Toronto Firefighters' Association and the City of Toronto. The action was settled by an agreement to refer the issue to the original interest arbitration board.

The Arguments:

The Etobicoke firefighters requested that their salaries be increased, as of 1998, to equal those of the other firefighter groups in Toronto, each of which was awarded the same wage rate in 1998. In the alternative, they submitted that full parity with the other firefighter groups in Toronto should have been achieved earlier than January 1, 2001. While they accepted that the Board's decision was a discretionary one requiring consideration of many factors, it was the Etobicoke firefighters' position that "the most important factor, which should prevail over all others, was pay equity; that is, all firefighters in Toronto should earn the same rate of pay, at the first opportunity, i.e. 1998, regardless of their earnings pre-amalgamation or any other factor."

The City did not agree.

The Decision:

The interest arbitration board, chaired by Martin Teplitsky, reconvened, seven years after it had originally sat, and considered the matter de novo (afresh), but it unanimously denied the Etobicoke firefighters' request.

The chair accepted that pay equity was an important factor, but declared that it was not the only factor to be considered: "There are other factors which must be taken into account, one of which, in this Board's opinion, is the dynamic of collective bargaining which may, depending on the circumstances, call for incremental change in working conditions and gradualized improvement in wages." Elaborating further on the role of gradualization in the collective bargaining process, the chair stated: "Gradualization reflects the collective bargaining reality that catch-up may not be achieved all at once, rather over a period of time, in situations where employees have through their own negotiations placed themselves in a position from which they subsequently seek to be relieved."

In this regard, the chair found that the salaries of the Etobicoke firefighters "fell behind" in the circumstances at hand because of the give-and-take of collective bargaining: "[T]he Etobicoke firefighters accepted 0% in 1996 and 0% in 1997 – a lower settlement than they otherwise would have achieved – to secure a particular goal in bargaining. They could not reasonably expect their salaries to be restored fully the following year because the effect of immediate restoration would be to deprive the employer of the benefit of its bargain, which involved an ongoing cost. In the ordinary course of bargaining, this self-created falling behind would have been gradually redressed over several years."

"Employees should neither benefit nor be harmed by amalgamation," the chair stated, pointing out that to grant the Etobicoke firefighters' request for immediate full parity in 1998 would result in giving them a benefit that they would not have achieved otherwise: "To award an increase in 1998 of more than 5% to Etobicoke firefighters to bring them immediately to full parity with other firefighter groups in Toronto would have given them a benefit from amalgamation that they would not have achieved in free collective bargaining."

Striking the appropriate balance between "the competing interests of parity and respect for the collective bargaining process," the board denied the request of the Etobicoke firefighters, ruling that "incremental catching-up of the Etobicoke firefighters is consistent with sound labour relations and with prevailing collective bargaining practices. The alternative, a windfall, would be inconsistent with sound labour relations."


This interest arbitration turned, in part, on the issue of replication – that is, the board should seek to award a collective agreement as close as possible to what would likely have been achieved through collective bargaining had that been possible. In this regard, once the Etobicoke firefighters accepted a lower wage increase in return for an (unspecified) collective bargaining gain, the die was cast.

Case Name: Toronto Professional Firefighters Association and Certain Firefighters of the Former City of Etobicoke v. Corporation of the City of Toronto

Jurisdiction: Ontario

Proceeding: Interest Arbitration

Arbitrator: Martin Teplitsky, Chair

Date: June 18, 2009

Full Text: