Deputy Fire Marshal Silvestri Retires

Deputy Fire Marshal Silvestri Retires

Bernie Silvestri, Deputy Fire Marshal with the Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) will be retiring and his last day of work is March 1. Silvestri has worked at the OFM since 1984.

“Bernie brought a wealth of expertise and experience in fire investigations and fire and life safety principles and practices as Deputy Fire Marshal,” said Ted Wieclawek, Ontario Fire Marshal.  “I have benefited from his insight and support and on a personal level have enjoyed working with him.  All the very best in your retirement Bernie.”

Throughout his career, Silvestri has leveraged his expertise as Manager, within the Research & Code Development section, Manager, Fire Evaluation section, Assistant Deputy Fire Marshal, Fire Investigation Services and, Assistant Deputy Fire Marshal, Technical Services.

Silvestri was involved with the development and interpretation of the Ontario Fire Code for much of his career. His first experience working with the Code was as a plan approval engineer in the OFM’s Research and Code Development section, where he recalls he helped develop Section 9.6 retrofit requirements for high-rise buildings and delivered training for Section 9.4 of the Fire Code. Much of the work on the Code was accomplished by studying and evaluating fire scenes for fire spread and Code compliance. He soon became the manager of the unit providing engineering support to fire investigations.

Eventually, a separate section, called Fire Evaluation was formed for those whose work was solely based on fire scene evaluation. The structure of the OFM was very different at this time: Fire Protection Services and Fire Investigations functions were operated under Field Services. In 2002, the Fire Evaluation section was consolidated with Fire Investigation Services with Silvestri as Assistant Deputy Fire Marshal. The section became more focused on the creation of a comprehensive fire investigation model, a kind of investigation that went beyond just the determination of origin and cause to reporting on all factors that influence the outcome of the incident.

Silvestri was Assistant Deputy Fire Marshal of Fire Investigation Services until 2011 when he moved to the newly formed Technical Services section and then in January 2012, he was appointed Acting Deputy Fire Marshal responsible for the operations of the Technical Services and Fire Investigation Services sections.

Bernie Silvestri
Deputy Fire Marshal Silvestri cuts his retirement cake at an event at the Ontario Fire College in January.

 

 

Silvestri receives his 25-year long service medal
In 2009, Silvestri received his 25-year long service medal. From left are Pat Burke, then Ontario Fire Marshal, Bernie Silvestri, then Assistant Deputy Fire Marshal of Fire Investigation Services, his wife Patti and Doug Crawford, then Deputy Fire Marshal.

He has a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Toronto, is a member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario, the National Fire Protection Association and is certified as a Fire and Explosion Investigator by the National Association of Fire Investigators.

Beth Tate and Bernie Silvestri arrived in Windsor for a Fire Code Seminar, and were greeted at the airport in style
In 1985, when the OFM’s Beth Tate and Bernie Silvestri arrived in Windsor for a Fire Code Seminar, they were greeted at the airport in style by Paul Langlois, CFPO with Windsor Fire Services.

Group of fire protection engineers, 1985
A picture of some of the OFM’s Fire Protection Engineers from 1985. Can you find Bernie?

The OFM has changed since Silvestri began 29 years ago.  The organization has become more integrated and fire investigations have become more tied to the roles of other sections.  Key investigation findings are now categorized according to the 3 Lines of Defence and the Comprehensive Fire Safety Effectiveness Model.  He can still recall when the role of fire investigations had been only to assist police with arson crimes.

The fire service will continue to evolve says Silvestri. He says there is still a need for greater acceptance within the fire service for comprehensive fire investigations. The challenge going forward will be to work with fire service partners to obtain a greater level of trust from them when the OFM is investigating fires in their communities.

In his retirement, Silvestri plans to travel and spend more time with family. Best wishes on a happy retirement!

An excerpt from the Fire Marshal’s Quarterly

An excerpt from the Fire Marshal’s Quarterly, Volume 21, No. 2, 1985. It reads ‘Bernie Silvestri, P. Eng., joined the permanent staff of the Technical, Research and Consulting Services Unit of the OFM as a Fire Protection Engineer on March 1, 1985. Previously he worked on contract as a Plans Approval Engineer with the same Unit. Bernie is a Civil Engineering graduate from the University of Toronto, and was involved in construction management and municipal engineering prior to joining the OFM.’