The Ontario government is providing $5 million in funding to help municipal fire services address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will enhance fire safety training across the province and support safety inspection programs to ensure compliance with the Ontario Fire Code.
“COVID-19 has presented our local fire departments here in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound with a lot of challenges,” said Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker. “I’m pleased our local fire services will have access to funding to improve services locally.”
“Our government has listened to fire services across the province and recognizes the impact that COVID-19 has had on their operations,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “This funding will enhance opportunities for training and support fire safety inspections needed to keep our communities safe. We are grateful to these brave, dedicated individuals for their commitment to protecting Ontarians as the fight against COVID-19 continues.”
COVID-19 created risks and unprecedented challenges for fire departments to conduct training and fire safety inspections. This one-time funding will enhance in-person and online educational instruction needs by increasing access to additional training. It will also support updates to specialized critical equipment, such as high-speed internet, to enhance virtual training and enable remote options to support fire safety and compliance with Ontario’s Fire Code while minimizing exposure to the virus.
Ontario’s fire departments vary in size and capacity and serve different communities that each present different levels of risk. There are significant costs to ensure every department has skilled first responders who are adequately trained. Each municipality will be able to submit proposals for an initial $4,500 base grant plus additional funding dependent on population served.
“I want to commend the fire services for their dedication to protecting communities during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jon Pegg, Ontario Fire Marshal. “This grant represents the difference in allowing fire departments to adapt and respond to COVID-19 related impacts that ensures both community and fire personnel safety, especially within small and rural communities.”
“The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs remains steadfast in supporting initiatives aimed at keeping our fire service personnel safe, while protecting the lives of all Ontarians. This funding opportunity will help fire departments target specific local training or inspection needs, and address them based on the requirements of the community,” says OAFC President Chief Mark MacDonald. “Our fire service personnel must be properly and safely trained to provide the levels of emergency response services their communities rely on.”
“COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for firefighters in their frontline work to provide life-saving services to Ontarians,” said President of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, Carmen Santoro. “This new investment by the government will enhance public safety across Ontario by providing the technology required for training and fire inspections in this ever- changing environment.”
There are 441 fire departments in Ontario including 32 large municipal services consisting of full-time fire personnel, 215 composite fire departments made up of full-time and volunteer personnel, and 194 small municipal fire services or communities without municipal organization and are made up solely of volunteers.