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"Emerging Fire Services Issues" AMO


Staff member
Directing Staff
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21 March, 2011
Association of Municipalities of Ontario:

A bill was introduced Monday by the Ontario Liberals* which would require municipal employers to set a minimum mandatory retirement age of 60 for firefighters involved in fire suppression.
The concern of the AMO seems to be that because the average age of Firefighter recruits is steadily getting older, that this will affect their pensionable time. For example, you still only have to be 18 to join Toronto Emergency Services ( as many of us were ), but the waiting list for Firefighter has grown so long that by 2008 the average age of TFS recruits had risen to 31.69.

Some questions from the AMO:
•        "Whether it would apply to just full-time firefighters or also to volunteer firefighters and if so, the impact on those services?"
•        "What is the meaning of ‘fire suppression’ activities—does it include fire engineers, suppression training, or communications activities?"
•        "Would it apply to fire management officers?"

"An AMO report sent to city clerks and councils Tuesday notes firefighters are entering the workforce older than in previous decades and it should be expected fire suppression personnel will not have their pensionable years by age 60."
"The AMO report raises several other issues with the legislation, including the likelihood that municipalities would have to find alternate duties for firefighters at age 60 if they don’t wish to retire."
Toronto Sun
April 19, 2011

The second AMO item is:
"Recently municipal councillors may have received a letter from the fire sector that suggests a broadening of fire dispatch and to mandate the use of fire services in all life and limb threatening medical emergencies.
While principally, it would be difficult not to agree with the statements in the letter, operationally there is more to consider than the correspondence provides and has some implications that need to be considered, such as governance and performance since fire is predominantly at the lower tier and EMS predominantly at the upper tier and through DSSABs** in the north. There are cost implications and needs to be considered in the broader context of local resource allocations."
Highlight mine.

*Firefighters have shown their support for Premier McGuinty in the past:
"Firefighters went the extra yard, in fact, rushing outside before a campaign event in Toronto to cordon off a path for the premier, allowing him to avoid a potentially embarrassing photo with a Pinocchio-like mascot nicknamed "Fibber." It's the invention of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), designed to remind McGuinty about his broken tax pledge."
Ottawa Citizen/National Post
September 13, 2007

**District Social Services Administration Boards Act

The Ontario Professional Fire fighters Association recently launched a "Fire Service and EMS" campaign:

Perhaps the timing is a coincidence, but the OPFFA may want to make the big push prior to the Ontario election which is scheduled for October 6, 2011:

Owen Sound, ON
"Numbers point to smaller firefighting staff in city":

"This is the multi-tiered response issue, wherein your Aunt Hazel's broken ankle gets a police cruiser, a paramedic and a massive fire vehicle"

"In 2009, we had 33 fires. Of these, 9 caused no loss whatsoever. Of the 24 that caused some loss, the total of such losses was $388,000. Three fires accounted for $300,000 of this amount. In other words, in terms of actual fire work as traditionally understood we retained 30 full-time workers and paid out over $3 million to deal with three significant fires. But what about the non-traditional work? In 2009, the department attended on a whopping 999 medical calls. The figures point to one conclusion: in day-to-day practice, this is less of a fire department than a massive paramedic unit with very large red ambulances which don't in fact transport anyone.":

I knew this was coming, it's been their position for a long time that Fire should be running everything.  I love it, Hamilton Fire recently introduced 24 hour shifts and as a result, they now have a mandated 8 hours of rest during the shift.  They also have the ability to take themselves out of service if they feel they've worked too much during the shift. 

If fire wants the best for the community, then maybe we should start funnelling money away from fire and giving it to the emergency service that actually does emergency calls. 

I actually envy the IAFF.  They have their shit together.  They know that fire's are going the way of the dodo and that in order to maintain current funding levels they need to find something to do.  EMS on the other hand, we're retarded when it comes providing a unified front.  Fire is going to win on this one, simply because we are too immature as a collective service to do anything about it.  The OPA claims to speak for Ontario paramedics but they can't even get a website that works properly, let alone get the majority of paramedics on their side.  The services themselves won't do anything as the majority of them are engrossed in combat with the union and directors are unwilling to go before their respective councils and call a spade a spade as it might cost them their job. 

Sheerin said:
Fire is going to win on this one, simply because we are too immature as a collective service to do anything about it. 

What happened at City Hall last night will not boost confidence at T-EMS. That resistance is futile. Our Chief, and three of our five Deputy Chiefs very recently retired. T-EMS no longer has its own Commissioner. No longer has its own HQ. It's not even a Department any more. It is now a Division within one. They are fatally weakened.

Sheerin said:
I actually envy the IAFF.  They have their shit together.  They know that fire's are going the way of the dodo and that in order to maintain current funding levels they need to find something to do. 

"Our next frontier is Canada.":

"But as one of this union's most fundamental responsibilities, our involvement in EMS has also helped us create and save jobs for our members."

Reply to add.
The following American cities are Fire-based EMS: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, San Francisco, Detroit, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Austin, Columbus, Memphis, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, St. Louis, Nashville, Milwaukee, Seattle, Las Vegas...
With the Affordable Care Act in the U.S., 42 million more people will have health insurance. As America's 88 million baby boomers age, they will require more emergency health care.
"That perfect storm includes the terrible situation many local governments find themselves in when trying to finance public fire and EMS agencies; the turn of suddenly blaming firefighter pay and pension systems for the financial difficulty many communities find themselves in;"
"The Perfect Storm: Budget Woes, Aging Population and New EMS Competitors Align" by Gary Ludwig, Firehouse Magazine:

A similar "perfect storm" may be developing here. T-EMS responds to 265,000 ( and climbing ) 9-1-1 calls per year.

Toronto Sun May 23, 2011
"Hudak vows to fix wage arbitration system:
“Pubic ( sic ) sector pay and benefits need to reflect private sector realities.”
"Municipalities are bristling at the deals arbitrators have handed down for essential police and fire services, particularly in Northern Ontario."

' But ( Councillor Doug Ford, the mayor's brother ) Ford vowed this is only the beginning.
"We're going to be outsourcing everything that is not nailed down," he said.'
Toronto Sun February 6, 2011:

"Toronto Fire Services may face budget axe: June 1, 2011, Toronto – The word is out that Toronto Fire Services (TFS) is facing the prospect of unprecedented staffing reductions in order to achieve budget targets as the city faces a $774-million shortfall for 2012.":

"Cuts on this order to Canada’s largest municipal fire service are equivalent to the removal of approximately 20 apparatuses from the fleet and 400 firefighters (TFS has about 128 apparatuses and more than 3,000 firefighters). In absolute terms, this seems staggering, given that the majority of Canadian fire departments don’t come close to 20 apparatuses or 400 firefighters."
June 7, 2011
"Ontario firefighters group endorses McGuinty:
Only months before a provincial election, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has received the endorsement of the group representing Ontario’s 11,000 firefighters.
Fred LeBlanc, president of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, told reporters in Ottawa Tuesday that the association is throwing its weight behind the premier because the Liberal government has always stood by firefighters and supported their causes. LeBlanc said on issues ranging from mandatory retirement to pension reform, the Liberal government has supported legislation the union has long been seeking.":

July 13, 2011
"KPMG ventures into really controversial territory with a recommendation to amalgamate Toronto EMS and Fire Services.":
"As the report points out, more than once, the demands for fire emergency response have decreased while EMS demands have increased and Fire has "twice the budget" even though the largest majority of medical calls are for EMS. The latter service is having a tremendous challenge keeping up with targeted response times.
"It makes perfect sense to amalgamate EMS and the fire department to not only coordinate a better response by the two services--and not duplicate efforts--but to shift more resources to EMS for medical calls."
"However, knowing the cozy Fire Services fiefdom as I do -- which has been struggling to reinvent itself over the past several years by responding to more medical calls --this is bound to set off more than a few sparks among firefighters and their powerful union leaders.":

Some highlights.
"Consider integrating EMS and Fire organizationally and developing new models to shift more resources to EMS response and less to fire response over time.: With decreasing demands for fire emergency response and increasing demands for EMS response, EMS response times have been deteriorating while fire response times are consistent . Fire has twice the budget, but the largest majority of calls for service are for EMS.
Cultural issues, the history of the services, the pride of service and the high esteem with which the services are held are all major barriers to change."

"...shift more resources to EMS response and less to fire response over time."

"Consider reducing the range of medical calls to which the fire department responds: TFS broadened the medical call parameters. However the dispatch process currently does not take into account the actual availability of EMS units which sometimes arrive before fire units, and is designed to err on the side of “over-response”. It could use a more risk based approach."

"Consider the opportunities to improve response times ( TFS ) and decrease equipment requirements through dynamic staging of equipment."

"Firefighters next on layoff list: The Toronto fire department is the latest organization to brace for deep downsizing as Mayor Rob Ford’s administration presses for a smaller workforce.
Sources say Chief Bill Stewart recently submitted a report to the budget committee stating 22 trucks — about 300 firefighters — would need to be pulled off the road to meet the mayor’s reduction target.":

CTV: "A review of emergency services released on Wednesday suggests Toronto already had fewer deployed vehicles per capita than any other Ontario city."

July 17, 2011
"Turn off taps at Toronto Fire: Our fire service has never tightened its belt. Now's the time":

National Post
Jul 16, 2011
" ‘We’re in a war with the fire department’: Just 1% of Toronto's recorded 150,000 incidents were fires last year."

"The fire department has almost triple the staff of Toronto Emergency Medical Services, and the city has 82 fire stations but 45 ambulance stations."

"stations were historically situated close enough together that a horse and carriage could dash to any scene without running out of breath"

"Mark Ferguson, president of the union representing Toronto paramedics, says internal studies by Toronto EMS show firefighters are only needed at a tiny fraction of the medical calls they attend. Rather than merging the two services as the KPMG report recommended, Mr. Ferguson believes the city should eliminate firefighter first response to medical calls.
It doesn’t make sense to send four firefighters and a million-dollar pumper to a call that can be serviced by a single, highly trained paramedic,” Mr. Ferguson says."

"A veteran Ontario Provincial Police officer glances in the rearview mirror of his parked cruiser as he jots down a few notes on an accident reporting form. Across the top, he writes: “Fire was told not to attend.”
He complains to the two strangers whose cars collided minutes ago on Highway 401 of his frustrations with Toronto Fire, who are also on scene.
He accuses the department of rushing to highway accidents unnecessarily, clogging the roads with massive fire trucks while offering little concrete assistance.
“We’re in a war with the fire department,” he says."

"Alan Hills, acting co-ordinator of the pre-service firefighting program at Seneca College, says the clear “duplication of service” must be addressed swiftly.
“[We] need to be able to streamline the services to be able to give the best value for the taxpayer,” Mr. Hills says. “I think all three services — police, fire and ambulance — would agree that we could use our resources a lot better than we are now.” "

"At the Dufferin Street 911 call centre, Mr. Lynas, in his 29th year as a dispatcher, watches a monitor showing the number of available ambulances in the city. With each passing moment, it drops: 26, 25, 24. It regularly falls below 10, he says, and several times a week, it hits zero.":

19 July, 2011
"The number of emergency patients has risen by 47 per cent over the past decade, yet Toronto Emergency Medical Services has hired only 10 additional paramedics since 2002.":

Mike, in your experience, who's responsible for sending that massive million dollar pumper and its four man crew that's making life so miserable for the OPP officer ?

The OPP and the Fire Department are at war ??? Does the officer honestly believe that firefighters are plotting to take over the tasks of writing endless MVC reports, directing traffic in snotty weather and dealing with pissed off motorists who should probably never have been given driver's licenses in the first place ?

That article talks about "duplication of service" -which is obviously a bad thing. Yet, I can remember when that was referred to as "tiered response" and that was a new and wonderful concept at the time.

No doubt there's fat that can be trimmed from the Fire Department -or any other agency for that matter. I just wish for once that they'd scrutinize the policy makers a little more closely instead of automatically launching a jihad on the ones actually doing the job.

What KPMG told the city was this: "Consider integrating EMS and Fire organizationally and developing new models to shift more resources to EMS response and less to fire response over time. Cultural issues, the history of the services, the pride of service and the high esteem with which the services are held are all major barriers to change."
From what I have seen and heard the suggestion of integration is unpopular with paramedics. We have been hearing rumours of it since 1998. The International Association of Firefighters IAFF has pushed Fire-based EMS for years:

The proposed shift of resources is a good idea, and long overdue.

But, this is what really caught my eye: Fire: "Consider the opportunities to improve response times and decrease equipment requirements through dynamic staging of equipment."  :eek:
That is what EMS does, because it eliminates chute time - from when the call is dispatched to a crew in station, to when the rubber hits the road. So do the police. eg: When there is a robbery in progress, they send cars that are mobile as first response, rather than cars/crews in station.
At T-EMS, there was a management - union battle over Central Book on Stations CBOS. ( Super-stations, similar to the big police stations. ) There would be four or five of them to replace the 40 odd stations.

The Toronto tiered response model was implemented in 1982 with the introduction of the 9-1-1 emergency number. The primary intent of 9-1-1 and the accompanying tiered response model was to ensure that in the first instance the most appropriate emergency service was notified of an incident. Later, "Primary Agency and Dual Response" was expanded to include; Carbon Monoxide related emergencies and motor vehicle collisions on the Don Valley Parkway, the Gardner Expressway and the 400 series highways.

A Youtube video that has "gone viral", if interested.
"We risk our lives to save yours. Support your Fire Fighters and Paramedics.":
From another thread two days ago:
"PS: Watching the "battles" between fire departments and ambulance services as they attempt to avoid unification (e.g. Toronto) only serves to demonstrate that unification is the correct option for small forces."

Integration - ie: Fire-based EMS - goes beyond "warm and fuzzy" and new business cards in this case. It involves property taxes and public safety:
"The women who man the stockroom have been promoted to the rank of Captain so they can wear uniforms and make a captain’s salary, upwards of $100,000."
Toronto Sun
August 15, 2011
I see no benefit to the taxpayers, or increase in productivity, that would result from integration of Logistics.

This report on Fire-based EMS from a California grand jury two months ago:
"SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A Santa Clara County civil grand jury on Wednesday called for a wholesale rethinking of fire departments and emergency responses, arguing that sending firefighters to what are now mostly medical calls is outdated and wasteful.":
Not to mention the risk of accidents every time they roll.

They have had Fire-based EMS in New York City for 15 years:

Just got this in my inbox today:
Ontario Professional Firefighters Association

"The Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association is aggressively supporting the re-election of Dalton McGuinty as Premier":

Toronto Paramedic Association:
"Please support your paramedics by saying NO to a merger between Toronto EMS and Toronto Fire."

Ontario Paramedic Association
"Over the last few weeks, the international firefighters’ union has launched an aggressive lobby campaign designed to convince you that sending their members to medical emergencies will save lives."

National Post Sep 19, 2011
"Paramedics fear that the city ( Toronto ) will merge EMS and fire services, with the much bigger and more powerful fire department in charge":
“The Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, with support of the International Association of Fire Fighters, is lobbying at Queen’s Park for fire departments to take over EMS budgets across Ontario,” Geoff MacBride, president of the Toronto Paramedic Association"

"We are Toronto EMS":

In the news.

"Firefighters, politics and illegal parking":

Ontario Professional Firefighters Association: "What you need to know about the 2011 Provincial Election!":
"Never before have we had the risk of losing so much"

RV Election Tour:
Ontario election.
Ontario Professional Firefighters Association OPFFA
"Attention All OPFFA Locals – Our Goal Achieved":

Oct. 2011
Association of Municipal Emergency Medical Services of Ontario AMEMSO
"Medical research indicates that tiered response involving firefighter support is effective for the 1-2% of emergency medical calls that are truly life-threatening. There is no evidence confirming that fire response impacts patient outcomes beyond this identified subset of medical calls."

October 12, 2011
Sue Ann Levy
Toronto Sun:
"Firefighters not much help on medical calls":

"The study also cites findings that tiered medical responses provided by Toronto Fire could be cut by a whopping 83% “without adverse patient impacts.” "

ColdNorth, I don't know if you have seen this, it was just posted yesterday.
He lacks the professional diplomacy of Dr. M., but he works there.

"Welcome to The FDNY EMS Website
Updated October 13th, 2011":

"This is happening all over America and spreading to Canada."