Toronto did have radios with an emergency button at one time in history for Inspectors. They were removed all at once and replaced with cell phones. Our concern:
a) safety and b) radios were part of our everyday responsibilities such as Ontario Building Code inspections and definitely an asset when conducting fire alarm testing etc. Other issues that came up relying on radios was “dead zones” so communication was impossible without a repeater (District Chief vehicles). In addition, our communications division didn’t want to be burdened with our over the air requests when conducting fire alarm testing in a building or attending a fire drill, etc. Interesting though, our new Deputy did address this and was concerned that radios were not provided.
As for safety, post fire evaluations whether or not the OFM is present are conducted by Inspectors but the inspection is limited. Exposure is not acceptable. Therefore, we presently have a volunteer list of individuals that have been SCBA trained and mask fit tested. We totally rely on our OPS guys for our safety. This would also apply in “hoarding” situations where our staff may be exposed to airborne particulate such a animal feces, human feces, bedbugs, etc. Full SCBA is required. No respirators. If potential contaminants are “unknown” filter type respirators are not recommended. Full SCBA is.
Toronto staff recently in conjunction with CAMH attended a mandatory “De-escalation training” session which was very informative and useful for front line staff. First of its kind. I have been on the department for 22 years and never received training for personal protection. Had to rely on experience and the “spidey” sense. I must say that over the last few years, reports of verbal threats, owners punching walls and yelling at our staff appears to be on the increase. In my opinion, it is just a matter of time before an Inspector gets injured as the threat is underestimated and no proactive steps are taken historically until someone is injured. Cheers.