The Professionalization Process for the Ontario Fire Service
Paradigm for Progress
In February 1988, a Task Force was formed to carry out a mandate that was supported in a Resolution passed at the May 1987 OAFC Annual Conference. The mandate of this Task Force, called the "Standard Task Force", was to:
- Communicate with interested groups and agencies, e.g. the Fire Marshal's Office
- Develop an Action Plan designed to enhance training opportunities for Ontario firefighters and effectively implement Provincial Training Standards
- Submit a written report (Paradigm For Progress), complete with recommendations, to the OAFC Board of Directors for their consideration and action
Paradigm for Progress Report
The report generated from the efforts of the Standards Task Force was called "Paradigm for Progress - Action Plan for Fire Service Standards" and contained Recommendations and an implementation Action Plan. This Plan included identification of appropriate training and educational delivery systems.
The recommendations contained in the 1988 Paradigm for Progress Task Force report include:
That Fire Service Standards be adopted for the Province of Ontario
That the development of Fire Service Standards, consistent with the criteria, concepts and principles embodied in the Task Force Report, be implemented without delay
That the Office of the Fire Marshal be the certifying body for Fire Service Standards in the Province of Ontario
Items included in the implementation Action Plan are summarized and included:
Development of a joint OAFC/OFM strategy for the effective implementation of Fire Service Standards
Joint development of a Standards Model
Establishment of professional body with a mandate to begin to develop the Standards Process Model and implement provincial standards
Standards Process Model
The results of the standards Task Force deliberations are referred to as the Standards Process Model. It is recognized that standard setting is a "dynamic, constantly-evolving and continuous process consisting of a number of dependent and interrelated parts", which include
- A Professional Standard Setting Body (PSSB)
- A Recognized Body of Knowledge
- Fire Service Standards
- Delivery and Support Systems (Endorsement)
- Provincial Certification (Firefighter Certification)
The Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal certifies Ontario Fire Service personnel to the respective Ontario Fire Service Standards based on the criteria developed by the Certification Council, approved by the Office of the Fire Marshal and agreed to by the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs. The Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 (FPPA), clause 9 (2) (d), provides authority to the Office of the Fire Marshal for training and evaluation of fire service personnel.
In 1988, ‘Paradigm for Progress,' a Task Force Report to the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, recommended that the Professional Standards Setting Body (PSSB) be created with the mandate to develop a training, educational and certification system for the Ontario Fire Service.
The PSSB, under the auspices of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) and the Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) has developed and published nine Ontario Fire Services Standards.
Purpose of Certification
Certification formally acknowledges that an experienced fire service personnel in Ontario meets the recognized job performance standards, and educational/training and job experience requirements as approved by the Office of the Fire Marshal and agreed to by the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs.
Certification is not a means of determining who shall participate in the practice or profession of firefighting and its related activities. A lack of certification is only an indication that the individual has not applied for or completed the requirements of certification.
Terms of Certification
The initial Ontario Fire Service certificate is valid for five (5) years from the date of issuance.
Benefits of Certification
There are a number of benefits to fire service personnel certification.
- Certification recognizes fire service personnel as professionals with specialized skills and an ability to provide quality, competent service.
- Certification provides fire service personnel with opportunities to evaluate and document their performance, and compare their skills to each competency and the overall standard.
- Certification acknowledges a fire service personnel's commitment to ongoing training and lifelong learning.
- Certification provides a concrete training path to follow.
- Certification will support the credibility of fire service personnel in the completion of their regular and special activities such as, dealing with litigation.
- Highly motivated people will continue to be attracted to the fire service because of the certification program.
Certification is a voluntary process and is based on a candidate's ability to:
- Meet established educational/training qualifications
- Provide proof of current employment in a fire department in Ontario
- Meet job experience requirements
- Demonstrate competencies to standards
- Candidates are required to submit their educational/training and job experience portfolios with required documentation to the OFM Certification Office at the time of application for certification.
Certified fire service personnel are responsible to maintain their certification and initiate renewal. The procedures for certification renewal are being developed, utilizing the following guiding principles:
- Continuous employment as a fire service personnel in a municipal fire department in Ontario
- Documented ongoing training
- Proof of demonstrated competence to the current standard
Certification Council Members
Members are representative of the Ontario Fire Service. For a list of current members, consult the OFM web site.
For Further Information
Regarding certification programs, please contact the OFM Certification Office at (647) 329-1083.
For current information regarding the PSSB, Firefighter, Fire Prevention Officer and Company Officer Certification Programs and endorsement, visit the following web sites:
Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
Office of the Fire Marshal
25 Morton Shulman Avenue, 5th floor
Toronto ON M3M 0B1
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