Impacts of the 2021 National Firefighting Competition

Impacts of the 2021 National Firefighting Competition

This year, AFAC once again held a virtual National Firefighting Competition (NFC). This decision was in support of the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and public safety.  The 2021 competition intentionally shifted its focus to public education and fire prevention, and in the spirit of community, capacity building, and shared resources, the competition requirements involved the submission of the public education video based on one of the themes provided. The goal was to create a digital library of public education and fire prevention videos created by communities for communities, to ensure that there are culturally relevant materials accessible to all.

This year’s winners included first place winners Service Incendie Mashteuiatsh from Quebec. With their video on Home Escape planning, they received $10,000 in addition to $3,000 for winning first place in the regional competition for Quebec, resulting in a total of $13,000 in structural firefighting equipment.

Morin Lake Volunteer Fire Department from the Saskatchewan region won second place in the NFC and received $7,500 in addition to $3,000 for winning first place in the regional competition (SK), for a total of $10,500.

Lennox Island Fire Department from the Atlantic region won third place in the NFC and received $5,000 in addition to $3,000 for first place in the regional competition (ATL) for a total of $8,000.

Nipissing First Nation Fire and Emergency Services won $3,000 for first place in the Ontario regional competition.

The purpose of the NFC is to bring Indigenous fire departments together, to build a sense of community, while also promoting skill development and fire prevention in community. It’s also an opportunity to enhance the cohesion within fire departments.

Patrick Gill-Dupe of Service Incendie Mashteuiatsh describes what it was like to create a fire prevention video with his team and what impact his team hopes their video will have on the community:

“We took advantage of this activity to team build. We organized a small working group. A team for the script, a team that would participate in front of the camera and another behind the camera. Part of the community had a sense of pride. The fact that we managed to win an English-language contest with a French-language base video, it was a great accomplishment. Afterwards, we appreciated the sharing of the video and comments from the community. Hoping they use the tips inside the video”.

When asked how the prize money would impact their fire department, Gill-Dupe noted that their equipment that was over 30 years old and no longer working properly. The prize money enabled them to reduce their annual deficit, and buy new equipment and training tools, which will enable them to improve their training sessions. The team purchased a training dummy, and items such as a fire nozzle, SCBA cylinders and hoses.  The team hops that this new equipment will directly impact their community by improving their response time, reducing the risk of malfunction of old equipment and support the safety of members and firefighters.

Free Air Quality Monitoring Sensors Available in Your Community

Free Air Quality Monitoring Sensors Available in Your Community

Air quality monitoring helps communities make informed decisions about public health. Currently, real-time air quality monitoring is available for 80% of people in Canada – most of whom live in urban areas. This leaves 20% of the population with air quality monitoring that does not tell an accurate story of the conditions in their community. The Meteorological Services of Canada (MSC) is trying to change that.

MSC is focused on installing sensors in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities to close the identified gaps in air quality data reporting across Canada. MSC is conducting a 5-year study on the use of low-cost air particulate monitors to increase the percentage of communities with access to accurate air quality data. Most air quality sensors cost upwards of $100,000 to install in addition to the regular maintenance costs. Such sensors capture ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and air particulate matter measurements (PM2.5). MSC are using the low-cost PurpleAir sensors in the study. These sensors cost under $500 to install and capture air particulate measurements. Studies have shown that it is the presence of increased levels of air particulate pollutants that have the highest impact on health.

The data that is collected by the PurpleAir sensors is displayed on an open online map. The current data can be seen here https://cyclone.unbc.ca/aqmap. The map updates every hour, so the air quality index that is shown is a real-time measure of the particulate matter present in a community. This enables communities to track the air quality with changing wildfire conditions and make recommendations to vulnerable members of the community or the general population based on scientifically founded markers of air quality and their associated health risks.

Installing a sensor in your community is easy. All that is required is a power source and a Wi-Fi connection. Most communities will only need one or two sensors, depending on changes in elevation. The team at MSC provides guidance on installation and data interpretation, as well as tips for using the data in community education and decision making.

Communities interested in installing a sensor in their community are invited to apply to MSC by submitting their address, and the proposed location of the sensor to celine.audette@ec.gc.ca then a member of your regional MSC team will contact you with further details.

MSC is focusing on installing sensors in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities to close the identified gaps in air quality data reporting across Canada. Priority will be given to communities with high numbers of people with respiratory conditions, that have experienced impacts from wildfire smoke/evacuations, that have a pre-existing Wi-Fi connection, and are in areas with an identified gap in air quality monitoring.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to include your community in this study and help close the gap in air particulate matter monitoring in Indigenous communities across Canada.

Implementation of Cause and Determination Reports

Implementation of Cause and Determination Reports

Using media reports, updates from the IFMS Program Delivery Specialists, and information from interagency contacts, the NIFSC is tracking fatal fires through the NIRS project area and have also implemented the creation of Cause and Determination reports. 

The Cause and Determination reports allow the distribution of targeted Safety Bulletins to First Nations Fire Departments, Canadian Council of Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners, and other regional partners. Further, recipients are requested to circulate the Cause and Determination reports among their networks. Currently, there are six Cause and Determination reports under our stewardship; these reports are kept confidential and only shared with the team with secure access to the NIRS database.

While it is too soon to determine what impacts these bulletins may have, the NIFSC will continue to produce and circulate these reports as an opportunity for prompting fire and life safety.

For more information on the Cause and Determination reports, or the Safety Bulletins, please contact Laurie Sallis – NIRS@indigenousfiresafety.ca

Inaugural NIFSC Board of Directors Commences April 2022 – Overview of the Recruitment and Selection Process

Inaugural NIFSC Board of Directors Commences April 2022 – Overview of the Recruitment and Selection Process

The inaugural NIFSC Board of Directors will take on the governance of the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council effective April 1, 2022. The recruitment and selection of Board members was overseen by a special Recruitment and Selection Committee designed to promote, recruit, advise and provide recommendations on the 17 member NIFSC Board of Directors to the AFAC Board of Directors.

The NIFSC Recruitment and Selection Committee consist of three (3) National Advisory Committee members and Facilitator Nathan Wright. Together, they created the selection criteria, timeline, and application process for the positions allocated to subject matter experts.

Main Activities of the Recruitment and Selection Committee

The main activities of the committee include:

  1. Overseeing the development of all recruitment materials for the following processes:
    • Appointment for Assembly of First Nations, Metis National Council, and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
    • Nomination of regional representatives
      • FNESS, TSAG, PAGC/SKFNEM, ONFFS
      • For Manitoba, Quebec and the Atlantic, the political organizations in these regions will put forward their nomination for a representative
    • Application criteria for positions allocated to subject matter expertise
  2. Actively recruit individuals to apply for the subject matter positions
  3. Review appointments, nominations, and applications

A process map was created to provide an overview of the recruitment and selection process and timeline.

Promotion of Board Positions

The Board positions for subject matter experts were posted on the NIFSC website, on both the Corporate Development webpage and the Opportunities webpage. The positions were also promoted across social media channels. Member of the NAC shared the postings within their networks, as did the AFAC Board of Directors.

  • Review all applications against the agreed upon application criteria
  • Provide recommendations to the AFAC Board of Directors on the 17 members for the new NIFSC Board of Directors