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Fire Fighters Call on Government to Recognize M-388

Ralph Goodale motion addresses fire fighter, public safety issues

OTTAWA, Nov. 23, 2012 /CNW/ - The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) is calling on the Canadian Government to act on three important fire fighter and public safety issues after a majority of MPs expressed support for them Wednesday in the House of Commons.

MPs adopted private member's motion M-388 in the House of Commons Nov. 21 by a vote of 150 to 134. The motion, introduced by Liberal MP Ralph Goodale (Wascana, Sask.), calls on the federal government to establish a national Public Safety Officer Compensation (PSOC) benefit, to protect the public by giving fire fighters priority access to vaccines during an influenza pandemic and to amend the National Building Code of Canada to address fire fighter safety.

While private member's motions are non-binding, the fact that a majority of MPs representing a majority of Canadians voted in favour of M-388 sends the federal government the clear message that it should act on the IAFF's Canadian legislative issues, says Scott Marks, the IAFF's Assistant to the General President for Canadian Operations. The IAFF represents 22,000 professional fire fighters across Canada.

"We ask the Government of Canada to recognize the adoption of M-388 and the important fire fighter and public safety issues it addresses," Marks said, adding the IAFF is grateful to Goodale for acting decisively to advance fire fighter and public safety issues. "We would welcome the opportunity to work with the government to see the will of parliament recognized and these important issues advanced."

The IAFF's call for a national PSOC benefit is in response to the fact that that there is currently no minimum level of compensation for the family of fire fighters who are killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. While some fire fighters have been able to negotiate a benefit at the local level, it typically does not adequately address the longer-term financial security of the surviving family. The IAFF recommends a PSOC benefit of $300,000 that would apply to all fire fighters across Canada.

The pandemic issue is in response to the fact that fire fighters are in fact emergency medical responders who come in direct contact with the public during an influenza pandemic, and the fact that if too many fire fighters are absent from duty during a moderate or severe pandemic, there may not be enough personnel available to properly protect the public.

The IAFF also asserts that the National Building Code of Canada should be amended to make fire fighter safety an objective. Because it is not currently an objective, fire fighter safety cannot be used as the basis of a building code change request. The code currently views fire fighters the same as other building occupants, despite the fact that the public expects fire fighters to enter a burning structure long after others may have exited in order to conduct interior search and rescue and to aggressively save the home and its contents.

More information about the IAFF position on the issues outlined in M-388 is available at http://www.iaff.org/canada/FactSheets/index.htm.

Goodale noted the cross-party support M-388 received. "It's good to see a little genuine democracy on the floor of the House - for such a worthy cause," Goodale said. "I'm grateful to all my colleagues in all Parties who joined together to endorse these important measures in support of the courageous people who put their lives on the line daily to keep Canadians safe."

The IAFF is also grateful to Conservative MP Patrick Brown (Barrie, ON), who worked exceptionally hard on behalf of fire fighters to help secure enough votes to see M-388 adopted, and to NDP MP Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster, BC), who also brought important attention to the motion.

Text of M-388:

M-388 — June 4, 2012 — Mr. Goodale (Wascana) — That the House hereby affirm its support for the following measures to support Canada's firefighters which, in the opinion of the House, the government should act upon promptly: (a) the creation of a national Public Safety Officer Compensation Benefit in the amount of $300,000, indexed annually, to help address the financial security of the families of firefighters and other public safety officers who are killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty; (b) the recognition of firefighters, in their vital role as "first responders", as an integral part of Canada's "critical infrastructure", and as "health care workers" under the Canada Influenza Pandemic Plan, entitled to priority access to vaccines and other drugs in cases of pandemics and other public health emergencies; (c) the specification of firefighter safety as an objective of the National Building Code of Canada; (d) a review of the National Building Code of Canada, in conjunction with the International Association of Firefighters, to identify the most urgent safety issues impacting firefighters and the best means to address them.

SOURCE International Association of Firefighters

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