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  • in reply to: Fire Prevention Staff Safety #2472
    Tom RuggleTom Ruggle


    The OMFPOA did a poll back in 2012, asking the question “As an FPO have you been subjected to any violence or threats?”

    In answer to the question, we received the following responses from 239 FPOs over a three month period:

    Yes, both physically and verbally threatened more than 3 times. 47.7%

    Yes, verbally threatened 1 to 3 times. 19.2%

    No, everyone is always happy to see me. 11.7%

    Yes, both physically and verbally threatened 1 to 3 times. 7.9%

    Yes, verbally threatened more than 3 times. 7.9%

    Yes, physically threatened 1 to 3 times. 3.3%

    Yes, physically threatened more than 3 times. 2.1%

    So the math works out to 88.3% of FPOs reporting either being physically or verbally threatened, and 61% of FPOs being physically threatened on at least one occasion. I know in our experience over the last 4 years, we have had a couple of incidents that involved weapons or threat of weapons.

    As a result of that poll and the concurrent local incidents, we implemented a working alone procedure for all FPOs.

    The synopsis of that procedure is essentially that we ask FPOs to conduct a risk assessment prior to attending an unfamiliar property. The outcome of the risk assessment determines if additional FPO staff attend, if PPE is required or if we request other agencies like police to support an inspection. It was written to treat hazards generically, not just threats of violence. I’ll attach it in the member files area.


    Kitchener Fire

    in reply to: Building Dept vs Fire Prevention #2295
    Tom RuggleTom Ruggle

    Hi Vince,

    I can’t support enough, the idea of Fire Departments putting themselves in the process of OBC plans review. After having fought for one permit fee funded Fire Plans examiner position over ten years ago and recently putting a second plans examiner in to the role (to be funded shortly), we believe they are worth their weight in gold. They interdict many of the problems FPOs would normally encounter in newly constructed buildings and the problems that are associated with renovation permits.

    These two positions work on the premise that a “minimum code compliant building does not equal a safe building”. Our examiners look at the proposals from designers to evaluate what they are proposing to do in the building, not just what they are going to build.

    1. Are your fire inspectors certified as building inspectors?
    Yes. Fire Protection is the first benchmark for all staff, but we also want plans exam and VO staff to have Large Buildings and the Part 10/11 courses as minimums.

    2. Do your fire inspectors conduct plans review?
    Yes, for all permits involving Part 3, major renovations, fire alarm, sprinkler or other complex life safety systems. They also review all site plans.

    3. Do your fire inspectors conduct inspections on new construction / alterations (building permit issued)?
    Plans examiners follow the building construction from permit to occupancy. We used to hand off the occupancy to area inspectors, but found it was more efficient to add a second examiner and follow the process through.

    4. Does your building department pay the wages of your fire inspectors that do plans review? (Are they paid an hourly rate by the building department for their services?)
    Ten years ago an FTE was funded out of permit fees based on proposed workload. We have exceeded workload forecasts and are seeking funding for a second FTE.

    5. Does your building department cover the cost of BCIN courses, building codes, exams and annual certification?
    Maintenance items such as these are funded out of our general budget for courses, training and certifications.

    Tom RuggleTom Ruggle

    the Ontario College of Trades is the regulatory body for Sprinkler Installers and up until very recently, the membership in the trade has been a voluntary act. Starting 2 Feb, 2017, only members of the College will be able to:

    “practise (do the work) of Sprinkler and Fire Protection Installers; be employed or otherwise engaged to do the work of the trade; and use the compulsory trade title (or any abbreviation of that title) to describe themselves or their work (e.g. Sprinkler and Fire Protection Installer).”

    Until then, it is unlikely you could effectively enforce a minimum competency requirement, although it seems to me a simple definition of a “qualified” or “competent” person in the OFC could alleviate a lot of the issues related to who can do work on a specific system.

    in reply to: CO detectors req'd #1516
    Tom RuggleTom Ruggle

    Hi Scott & Saskia,
    It is clear that applies to this building, since the commercial cooking appliances fit the definition of an appliance in the FC. (1) If a fuel-burning appliance or a fireplace is installed in a suite of residential occupancy, a carbon monoxide alarm shall be installed adjacent to each sleeping area in the suite.

    I would proceed as Scott suggests, but by Inspection Order only citing the hazard of CO, but not by considering the cooking appliances as a building service. I do not think that route would survive an appeal or a challenge in court. Doing an Inspection Order based on the hazards of CO would allow you to appeal if it didn’t survive the FM review.

    Building new, you would run into the same issue. On the same token many of the vulnerable occupancies are excluded from CO requirements. I have multi-unit residential buildings where HVAC systems heat the corridors, but the appliance is located on the roof. Those are very clearly exempted from the CO requirements.

    It is kind of like the regulations related to two ways out. We promote the idea as a universal in our messaging, but the regulations are filled with exceptions.


    in reply to: Heats in the Suites #1349
    Tom RuggleTom Ruggle

    Hi Duncan,
    We have a division of the Fire Department called Direct Detect, which does alarm monitoring, but we use it as we would a fire hydrant or fire truck; a fire protection system.

    As part of that, we installed monitored smoke alarm systems in all of the 800+ homes and townhouses operated by Waterloo Region’s supportive housing division. We later upgraded the monitoring to a wireless ULC listed system that we operate on one of our old radio channels, so that all of the systems are no longer dependent on a phone line. That program has been highly successful in interdicting fire conditions at the earliest possible moment, but also in dealing with the behavioral problems of tenants removing or tampering with smoke alarms. We know immediately, when a smoke has been taken down.

    Because our response arrives before a fire has time to grow, the costs of having a monitored smoke alarm system in each dwelling unit have been more than paid back by the savings accrued by not having the fire damage occur in the first place. For an institutional or commercial property manager, it has been very easy to demonstrate the savings. It always comes down to money.

    in reply to: Note Taking (Inspections, fire investigations, ect) #1348
    Tom RuggleTom Ruggle

    We just outfitted our inspection staff with Samsung Galaxy Active phones. The reason we opted for that model is that it has a dictation function that has been found in our testing to be highly accurate. Inspectors can dictate their notes into an email or other document and the app records to voice to text. Inspectors review and correct any errors (not many) and use them as their notes.

    We do also have inspection and investigation notebooks based on the OFM Investigation notebook template, but modified to include checklists and cheat sheets for staff as they are going through a building.

    in reply to: Wireless Interconnected Smoke Alarms #1347
    Tom RuggleTom Ruggle

    Good Day All,

    In Kitchener, we have been operating a Division of the Fire Department called Direct Detect for coming on twenty years now.It is the alarm monitoring Division of the FD and in the context of our City, serves as a fire protection feature the same as a hydrant or a fire truck. We also operate it as a Municipal Fire Alarm system under the OBC, as a signal sent directly to Fire gets apparatus and firefighters on scene faster than any other method. A faster and earlier response equals less risk to life and property.

    That experience has given us a different perspective on the use of technology, probably because of the success that it has provided us in dealing with those situations that don’t fit the norm, which in a lot of retrofit situations is actually the norm. If the system is monitored and it provides knowledge about sensor sensitivity, battery strength and device tamper, I would argue that wireless can exceed the performance of many FC required hardwired systems. It is all about system design and use.

    That being said, if a system can be hardwired, that is what we opt for. We never use wireless as a work avoidance measure for an owner, but are happy to consider them in place of another system, where system performance and function can be demonstrated to serve the interests of the building and its occupants. We have seen a few wireless systems proposals accepted as alternative solutions and CFO approved alternatives.

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