2016 Health & Safety Message

A message from Jerri Ottley
FFAO Director, Occupational Health & Safety

Here I sit typing away while the snow blows outside, and I’m wishing I was on a beach somewhere warm, sipping on a drink with a little umbrella in it. Well I am not, and if you are reading this, you are not either. So let’s get on with it. I hope everyone survived the holidays.

With winter finally arriving it is once again time to bundle up to keep warm, and when responding to fires and other emergencies, the need to stay warm is no different. We all have been to fires in the bitter cold and had our gear frozen under a thick coating of ice. This brings with it the possibility of cold-related injuries. Hypothermia can be a life-threatening condition that we need to keep in mind. Taking warm-up breaks in the trucks is helpful but also brings with it another problem. The ice coating our gear starts to melt soaking our outer gear. Wet gear robs our bodies of heat and makes us colder faster.

Keep aware of your condition and keep a look out for others. Shivering is the body’s alarm warning that you need to warm up NOW. Our bunker gear is fairly good at keeping us warm but not adequate in extreme weather. It is a good idea to have extra socks, sweaters and extra gloves available. We keep some of these in a bag on the rescue truck. The section 21 guidance note 3-3 deals with cold and heat recommendations and your own department SOPs make for a good reminder of dealing with the seasonal issues.

The section 21 committee has been busy and there are several guidance notes upgraded and combined. Check them out. You can find the updates on the FFAO website as well as the Fire Marshal and Fire Chiefs’ sites.

Firefighting can be a dangerous job but you can perform this job safely following your department’s SOGs that follow the section 21 guidance notes.

There will be an information course at the FFAO Convention this summer entitled “WSIB and The Firefighter.” This course is designed explain the Board’s history and how the policies on Firefighters are applied. This will be informative to department safety reps, company officers and just about anybody who wants some daylight shed on the way the board works. I have been working on the lesson plan and I hope that is enjoyable for those attending.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or other matters related to Occupational Health & Safety, please contact me at: healthandsafety@ffao.on.ca

                                                                                JERI OTTLEY