An edited and shorter version can be found in the October 22, 2014 issue of The Pontiac Journal.
Back on the 7th Concession, there is smoke floating out a building’s door. A fire truck is running nearby. Firemen in uniform are moving about. There is no fire, though. The men are testing out a new structure. The building has been set up by the Shawville Clarendon Fire Department and Chief Lee Laframboise, because of the Fire Safety Cover Plan.
Jacques Piché is the Public Security and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the MRC Pontiac. Part of his job description is making sure, the Fire Safety Cover Plan is put into effect.
“The Cover Plan was a law that was passed by the government in 2001. Basically, municipalities have the obligation to put into place a plan that regulates all the resources you can think of, manpower, vehicles, water and training,” said Piché. “The law says the municipalities must do this in consultation with the MRC.”
The Plan in the MRC Pontiac was adopted by all municipalities and came into play on October 10, 2011. If firefighters were in service before 1998, they have what is called a grandfather clause. If the firemen were not in the service before that, they have to follow a course, to get certified.
Also, part of the Cover Plan is prevention. This is what Jonathan Perreault does. “When there’s a fire,” said Piché. “The firemen determine the cause of the fire, determine why there was one and Jonathan comes up with prevention strategies, so we don’t get any more fires like that.”
Since the Fire Safety Cover Plan is made into law under the Fire Safety Act, the municipalities that follow all implementations of the Plan, will get immunity from any lawsuit and would not be sued. An insurance company can bring into question, how the fire was fought, if firefighters are qualified enough etc. The municipalities would have the paperwork to back everything up.
The men also have to train on a monthly basis and it is an obligation. The monthly training must cover all the aspects of firefighting.
“The firefighters have to be trained and maintain qualifications through the practices,” said Piché. “The final exam has to be at a certified centre. That’s why Lee is having that centre because it meets the requirements of the National Firefighter School of Quebec. They regulate the training, and the final exam has to be certified by them.”
The centre is actually the former Sunday school building donated by Grace Community Church on Highway 148. Kirk Tubman, Ronnie Hodgins, Shandy Ardern, Ralph Lang, Tom Orr Cartage and several firemen all made it happen from loading, transportation, carpentry, gravel and set-up on the 7th Line.
“The municipalities of Shawville and Clarendon and the fire department are splitting the costs of the building,” said Chief Laframboise. “It’s pretty close to use and it’s on town property. Over time, the building will just pay for itself.”
A final exam is already slated for October 25 and Laframboise is taking part to upgrade his skillset. A compulsory review is done beforehand and the exam is to take up to 90 minutes. Laframboise heard other municipalities had to pay over $1,000 to send two men to Gatineau to take the exam.
“We can use the building for training on a regular basis as well,” he said. “It is search and rescue, we have a smoke machine. There is drag and carry, how to put a ladder up and ventilate a roof, hook up to a hydrant and all that.”
“The plan is a necessity,” added Piché, although agreeing, the plan has increased municipal budgets for fire services. “It’s put everyone on the same level. Before the plan, not all fire services were working the same. There were no inter-municipal agreements and equipment was out of date.”
Changes have been made all around and there are two more years to go on the five-year Cover Plan with other objectives like installing dry hydrants and checking all homes for smoke detectors, to be done within the MRC.
By: Scott Campbell – November 2014