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President's message

 

It’s hard to believe it has been a year since I became president of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs. It is a position and representation that I hold in the highest regard and with utmost pride. I want to express my sincere thanks to our Board of Directors, National Advisory Council, CAFC staff and our entire membership for the opportunity you have provided to me in serving our association. To serve our members as President is truly an honour that I never take for granted.


Our associations standing as Public Safety advocates on the National stage has never been stronger. In an ever changing and evolving climate of all hazards approach; the CAFC is truly living up to its role as a trusted advisor to government  on issues affecting public safety. As the "Voice of the Canadian Fire Service” our consultation, collaboration and presence as a vital stakeholder nationally, truly represents all facets of the Fire Service and Emergency Management. This has been an extremely busy year for achievements, initiatives and future steps for our association.

 

Over the years, I have watched the CAFC mature and grow. With a board-supported strategic vision and a solid focus on meeting member needs, we have worked collaboratively with our provincial and territorial partners to develop new initiatives and projects large and small that will benefit the fire service. Strategic focus towards communications will remain both a goal and a necessity amongst our membership and stakeholders. Internally, we have formalized our governance structure and adopted an open, transparent culture that welcomes participation and communication from members. The inclusive nature of the CAFC of the past helped define our identity and our strength as an organization.

 

Despite the changes for compliance with imposed legislation for the Not for Profit organizations, the CAFC focus has not, and will not change in what provided the roots of our association growth and maturity. We have invested in our structure to ensure sustainability and capacity to be nimble in policy and advocacy as emerging issues and/or initiatives attention requirement is of necessity. In short, the CAFC is well positioned for the foreseeable future.

 

Since September of 2014 I had the privilege of meeting many of our members and stakeholders – at provincial/territorial conferences, representing the fire services in front of federal ministers, parliamentary standing committees, and interacting with industry partners. CAFC initiatives range from (but not limited to) rail and pipeline safety, legislative change, member-services programs, mental health, volunteer retention and recruitment program, National Fire Incident Database project, public and private stakeholder engagement, and association capacity and infrastructure building. The CAFC is sharing and exchanging ideas to help build relationships that will serve the association well in the future.

 

The CAFC is proactively seeking opportunities to address the needs of Canadian fire services. During the past year we have seen a number of initiatives come to fruition – mainly because of discussions generated by the grassroots. Those initiatives have included a partnership with the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association to bring its Answer the Call volunteer recruitment program Canada wide, collaboration with the Council of Canadian Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners to obtain a federal grant to finally build a much-needed National Fire Information Database, the Tri-services (CAFC, CACP & PCC) full 20 MHz of broadband spectrum from Public Safety, a strong presence at the federal political level, and work to launch a revamped chief fire officer (CFO) program for 2016. As fire services large and small deal with emerging issues in the workplace and in their communities, it behoves us to keep working together closely to ensure strong fire services from coast to coast to coast.


In a vast and very diverse Canada there is an absolute need for representation and the involvement of membership. The CAFC works hard in the interest of its members, who present themselves as stewards of public safety for the communities they serve. The talent that exists within the chief-officer ranks of Canada’s fire services is necessary for the heavy lifting required to effect positive change. Departments of all sizes are represented by the CAFC and the benefits of membership are captured through involvement. The CAFC has committed to assist its members by providing services and resources of relevance. The association’s commitment to a national Answer the Call program, the improved CFO program, and online learning initiatives will address some gaps related to resourcing and expertise. I am committed to reaching out to non-member fire services and ensuring that they understand that their voices and representations are vital to the CAFC, and that we are an association focused on inclusion and diversity. We are experiencing growth in this particular membership category, but there is still an opportunity for improvement.


I want to express my sincere appreciation to our National Advisory Council (NAC) members for their patience, understanding and unwavering commitment as the governance change and transition continues to evolve. As we move forward, I want to continue reiterate the essential role that NAC plays for the future of the CAFC. A special thanks to Ken Block (Edmonton Fire Services) for accepting the inaugural chair position and providing his leadership. I also want to thank Denis Pilon (Swift Current FD) and the entire constitution and bylaws committee for the work completed to ensure the association is in compliance and operational readiness with the NFP changes. Guidance from Steve Indig is this regard is also much appreciated.


In attending Provincial Fire Chief conferences in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Maritimes (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland & Labrador) I offer my appreciation for the hospitality and warm welcome provided by your membership and Executive Boards. It was truly an honor to provide a synopsis of current CAFC initiatives and focus at your events. Thank you to John McKearney for attending the British Columbia and North West Territories conferences on my behalf and providing the same vital information and messaging. It is my commitment to attend all locations for NAC conferences I personally was unable to attend this past year and look forward to the opportunity in the upcoming year.


A tremendous amount of work goes into any conference. I want to thank Vicky Roper in appreciation for her continued tireless commitment to the CAFC and the success of our annual AGM is largely attributed to the work she performs. Along with her work and the work of many other volunteers, I am sure that 2015 Fire-Rescue Canada the country’s premier national networking opportunity for chief fire officers in Victoria this month will be a great success. On behalf of the CAFC I wish to thank all of our sponsors, supporters and friends that continue to invest in this premier conference for Canadian fire service leaders in aspiring, developing and executive roles.


I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank our Executive Director John-Paul Cody-Cox and Director of Policy and Research Erika Adams. The staff of the CAFC works extremely hard to ensure that daily operations and strategic measures of our association are well coordinated and efficient. We are very fortunate to have these talented and dedicated people on our team.


Thank you to the Board of Directors John McKearney, Ken McMullen, John deHooge, Ken Stuebing, Lee Grant and Vince Mackenzie for the time and dedication you have shown. It truly is my pleasure to have served with member elected individuals with such knowledge, leadership and dedication to our association. Lee’s continued role as treasurer is nothing short of yeoman’s work and his expertise in this regard is extremely valuable to the CAFC. I feel that the past year has built a solid foundation in order to move forward along with key accomplishments and I am excited for the upcoming year.


On behalf of the CAFC, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the departure of John deHooge from the Board. John has been a champion for the CAFC and has held a career of distinction to be admired and celebrated for his work nationally and internationally. As a friend and colleague John, thank you doesn’t seem enough for your many years of service. We wish you and your family all the best for your future endeavors.


Last but not least I wish to acknowledge the County of Brant and the men and women of the County of Brant Fire Department for their support, professionalism and excellence in community safety that allows me to fulfill my duties as CAFC president.


As I continue this journey as president into 2016, I do so with a very positive outlook and with great anticipation of what’s ahead. The need for a collaborative approach with stakeholders concerning mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder will be a major priority and CAFC focus. Our personnel are our greatest resource and we need to find the assistance measures required for this very complex and challenging issue.

 

"In this together” is a great mantra for the CAFC and will keep its members focused on inclusion, the spirit of volunteerism and collaboration that defines us. I will continue to work extremely hard along with our new Board, National Advisory Council members, and staff; to fulfill member expectations and affect necessary change. I look forward to continuing to represent the great people of the fire service in Canada and working with all of you in the next year.


Fire-Rescue Canada 2016 is in St. John’s next September and I hope to see you there. Our friends in Newfoundland and Labrador are always great hosts. We will be sure to "have a time”!

 

 

 

Paul Boissonneault
Fire Chief & CEMC County of Brant President
Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs 

 

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