OFM Visit to GTAA FESTI

OFM Visit to GTAA FESTI

In late May, a group of OFM staff were invited to take a comprehensive tour of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI).  Throughout the tour, the group learned about the wide variety of training courses (Ontario Fire Standards, and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)) that FESTI offers to local, national and international students. 

FESTI

Unlike other schools that offer training related to emergency services, FESTI is a division of an operational fire department.  Through this relationship, FESTI is able to harness the wealth of experience that rests with the fire service personnel who work at the department to include this in their up to date training for students.  It also allows students to get a real ‘hands-on’ practical experience in a fire department setting as part of their training.

Pictured here is the sign at the FESTI entrance.

We have arrived!

Delivering customized training programs that exceed current accreditation standards for students and providing consulting services are two ways that FESTI helps to develop high performance teams, provincially, nationally and internationally.  For students who have graduated from secondary school, FESTI offers a five and a half month pre service firefighting program.  For international clients, FESTI offers training programs from two days to 18 months, and can coordinate home stay occupancies for those who require accommodation.  This worked well for staff that travelled from Saudi Arabia to train at FESTI for a five-week period, a short while ago. 

For those attending FESTI for two days or more, arrangements can be made at local hotels, in addition to transportation to and from the school.  These arrangements are helpful for all FESTI clients, most recently when students from St Maarten travelled to Toronto for two weeks of training.    

“In North America, FESTI is one of the best given our training and props.  Our instructors are passionate about what they do and are connected to the fire service.  Training is what we do and the facility is state of the art,” said Dwayne MacIntosh, Deputy Fire Chief with FESTI.

The academic learning facility at FESTI is a state of the art building.  Boasting 35,000 square feet, it is a leading engineering and environmental design that has drawn the attention of many organizations from around the world and been recognized through ten awards for its design.  In addition to the building, FESTI has 40 acres of training grounds complete with state of the art training aids which allow for challenging, realistic training scenarios that replicate the challenges of today’s rescue services.

Programs at FESTI meet the stringent requirements of the National Fire Protection Association, Ontario Fire Marshal (OFM), Canadian Aviation Regulations, Institute of Fire Engineering and International Civil Aviation Organization.  Work is underway with the OFM’s Fire College to build an even stronger relationship with FESTI.

 “There is great potential for FESTI and the OFM to work more closely together, bringing stronger advantages to the fire service,” said Chief Figliola.  “Through a Memorandum of Understanding, we began our long-term relationship with Fire Marshal Moyle, it continued with Fire Marshal Burke.  Now, we have reviewed this MOU with Fire Marshal Wieclawek, this will be the crown and glory. The OFM will be the first organization in the world to be able to offer triple accreditation to students (Institution of Fire Engineers, Pro Board and International Fire Service Accreditation Congress), and this speaks highly of the leadership at the OFM.

 


Brian Ross of FESTI speaks to Trevor Bain, A/Deputy Fire Marshal and Rick Finnemore, Fire Protection Adviser, about some of the many training benefits that FESTI has to offer students.

Brian Ross of FESTI speaks to Trevor Bain, A/Deputy Fire Marshal and Rick Finnemore, Fire Protection Adviser, about some of the many training benefits that FESTI has to offer students.


 

One of the lecture theatres at FESTI. The theatre is equipped with the latest multi-media technology for students to fully engage with course content.

One of the lecture theatres at FESTI. The theatre is equipped with the latest multi-media technology for students to fully engage with course content.


Tables and chairs are available for students to eat meals and refrigerators are provided for storage. Meals can be purchased or provided by FESTI’s local caterer using the facilities onsite.

Tables and chairs are available for students to eat meals and refrigerators are provided for storage. Meals can be purchased or provided by FESTI’s local caterer using the facilities onsite.

The burn towers at FESTI

The burn towers at FESTI.

GTAA Emergency Services

The GTAA is a full-service emergency services department, operating similarly to municipal fire departments, with the same written and physical training requirements.  What’s different about the GTAA is that it provides firefighting and rescue response to aircrafts. 

“The airport is like a self-contained city,” said Mike Figliola, Fire Chief, GTAA Emergency Services.  “Every day, approximately 100,000 people pass through the airport. For those immigrating to Canada, Toronto is typically one of the first ports of entry.  Every firefighter has been highly trained to be able to respond to any event and can also mitigate 15 different health conditions and administer nine different drugs.”

“Response times are crucial,” said MacIntosh. “Sixty-five to 70 per cent of the calls we get are medical.  We are fortunate that every firefighter can drive the crash trucks, pumpers, be on the aerial and also provide advanced medical relief if need be.  The training we provide to our GTAA firefighters is extremely comprehensive.

Phil Bott Captain at GTAA Emergency Services and Rick Finnemore, OFM Fire Protection Adviser, in a crash truck.

Phil Bott Captain at GTAA Emergency Services and Rick Finnemore, OFM Fire Protection Adviser, in a crash truck.

A crash truck gets filled with water. These trucks are capable of shooting 200-foot streams and have a 3,000 gallon water capacity and the ability to refill in four minutes. They may look a bit cumbersome, but they are quite agile and can reach speeds of more than 100 kilometres in seconds.

A crash truck gets filled with water. These trucks are capable of shooting 200-foot streams and have a 3,000 gallon water capacity and the ability to refill in four minutes. They may look a bit cumbersome, but they are quite agile and can reach speeds of more than 100 kilometres in seconds.

OFM staff was treated to a simulated training exercise. The exercise included a call from a simulated air traffic control tower. The captain wrote the pertinent numbers on the windshield to help him assess how to respond to the incident.

OFM staff was treated to a simulated training exercise. The exercise included a call from a simulated air traffic control tower. It told the captain driving the crash truck that there were 70 people on board an aircraft, 60,000 gallons of fuel still onboard and six minutes until impact. The captain wrote the numbers on the windshield to help in assessing how to respond to the incident. In the top right of the photo, firefighters are able to manoeuvre the turret on the roof of the truck by a joystick and guide its position by using the arrow to accurately direct water/foam streams.

Putting the fire out from tail to cockpit.

Putting the fire out from tail to cockpit.

According to MacIntosh, when the Air France aircraft overshot the runway in August 2005 and burst into flames, the GTAA was on scene in 50 seconds. 

“We are regulated by Transport Canada on the time it takes to get to the crash site,” says MacIntosh of the standard to respond to a crash in three minutes or less.  “That’s why we have two fire stations, one north and one south on the airport grounds so that we can meet this standard.” 

Governance Structure

The GTAA Emergency Services and FESTI governance structure consists of six management committees.  Each of the committees is chaired and co-chaired by captains.  Each provides capital expense reports on equipment and recommendations on possible new expenditures. 

In 2004/2005, FESTI developed a 10-year business plan.  The goal is to be totally self-funded, and this is anticipated to be achieved in 2017.

“I became Chief in 2004,” said Chief Figliola. “And at 45, I went back and did my MBA.  It helped me get a better picture of how to manage the fire department as a business and where we wanted to go with it.”