Heat sheets, life savers, and lessons learned

Staying in touch at first-responder conferences

Experience, it’s been said, is the name we give our mistakes.

This innovative group of Ontario firefighters views mistakes as an opportunity to save lives.

The Ontario Association of Fire Training Officers, an organization of volunteers, represents nearly 150 fire departments across the province, and keeps thousands of firefighters up to speed on the latest in technology and training opportunities.

In addition to seminars, courses, conferences, and regular communications, OAFTO is currently working on a “near-miss” program called the Ontario Fire Services Critical Incidents – a growing electronic database of invaluable information.

“The concept of firefighters learning from others’ mistakes is nothing new, but we’re trying to establish a database of significant Canadian incidents – whether they’re firefighter fatalities, or near-misses – to benefit our membership,” says Richard Craibbe, vice-president of OAFTO and the chief training officer of the Oakville, Ont., Fire Department.

“These ‘heat sheets,’ as we call them, describe a near-miss, outline the lessons to be learned, and maintain the incident permanently. It’s a program we hope will eventually grow into something much bigger.”

For innovative ideas like these, and many others, Enbridge supports first response organizations’ trade shows and conferences across Canada – including OAFTO’s upcoming fall Training Officer Workshop from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 in Gravenhurst, Ont. – by sponsoring events and staffing information kiosks.

This year, just as an example, Enbridge has had a presence at conferences in Ontario (Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs), Alberta (Lac La Biche Safety Fair), Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan Emergency Medical Services), and Manitoba (Altona Safety Day).

As part of our commitment to safety and public awareness, we’re committed to maintaining our relationships with first responders in communities near our pipelines and facilities, so we can share important emergency preparedness information.

By staying in touch with these emergency response groups, we can also encourage applications to our Safe Community program, and promote our Emergency Responder Education Program, which offers free, unlimited, online training to first responders near our pipeline corridors.

“Our attendance at these conferences is extremely beneficial,” says Ken Hall, a senior public affairs advisor for Enbridge’s Eastern Region. “The events attract not only the fire chiefs, but senior staff – like the senior fire training officer, the senior hazmat co-ordinator, the emergency management co-ordinator for the municipality. It’s all the key people for the relationships we want.”

Enbridge has supported OAFTO with annual Safe Community grants since 2011. This fall’s Training Officer Workshop, expected to attract about 100 fire training officers from across Ontario, will feature keynote speaker Dr. Richard Gasaway, an acclaimed expert on situational awareness and fire response.

David Clarke, the emergency response co-ordinator for Enbridge’s Eastern Region, will also present Enbridge’s Emergency Response Action Plan (ERAP) on Sept. 28.

“It’s very gratifying to be a part of an organization like OAFTO,” says Craibbe. “These are highly motivated people – people who want to make change, and care about progress and evolution.”