Ontario Professional Fire Fighter's Association




LODD - Brother Mearns, Local 3888, Toronto

It is with deepest regret that we inform you of the line-of-duty death of Retired Captain Charles Mearns, Local 3888, Toronto, on May 21st, 2016. Chuck, as he was known, started with the Etobicoke Fire Department on June 20, 1955 and retired on June 30, 1990, after 35 years of service.

Brother Mearns is survived by his wife, Cheryl, and both his parents.

Beloved husband of Joanne (nee Plant). Loving father of Chuck (April) Mearns, Gordon (fiancée Deborah) Mearns, Laura (Olivier) Herrcher, and Pat Gilmour. Cherished Grandfather of four and Great-Grandfather of two.

Visitation and Funeral service is at St. Francis Xavier Church, Tilbury from 10-11 a.m. on Wednesday May 25, 2016 with a Funeral Mass to commence at 11:00 a.m.

All attending fire fighters are to wear their full dress uniform and shroud their badge.

St. Francis Xavier Church

32 Canal Street West

Tilbury, Ontario N0P 2L0

Our thoughts and prayers are with Brother Mearns's family and Local 3888 at this difficult time.


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Inquest needed into the death of Brother Dominic Parker


Brother Dominic Parker, a Markham fire fighter, was killed in 2013 by an individual with a mental health disorder. Brother Parker's wife, has been seeking a coroner's inquest on her husband's death, because she believes that Dominic's death could have been prevented with early intervention and assistance to the individual with mental health issues.

Mrs. Parker has started a petition which I encourage all of you to share with family and friends;

sign in support:

http://www.mentalhealthletsact.com/

We all understand the importance of mental health. Lets pull together and join the petition to ensure protocols are in place so that another tragedy like this, doesn't occur.

If you have any questions, please contact Markham President Jeremy Acton by phone (416-802-9274) or email (president@mpffa.com).


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PTSD for Ontario's First Responders


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Ontario recognizes PTSD as work-related for first responders

Police, firefighters and paramedics with post-traumatic stress disorder will no longer have to prove it was caused by tragedies they handled on the job, erasing a major roadblock to prompt treatment.

MPPs from all parties unanimously passed a law Tuesday recognizing the disorder as a work-related illness, which advocates hope will ease a spate of suicides among first responders.

“This is going to save a lot of lives,” said Carmen Santoro, president of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association.

Once the bill receives royal assent — expected soon — the onerous process in which first responders had to detail how they were traumatized by grisly events in the course of their duties should draw to a close.

“They won’t have to re-live it. They won’t have to go through ‘which date did you see that victim at a scene?’ It’s presumed to have happened on the job because of the number of times we’re exposed to those incidents,” Santoro added, noting his and other groups will be watching the Workplace Safety Insurance Board closely.

“It should be automatic. We’ll see how it goes.”

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said “too many people are struggling, fighting with WSIB to get treatment” under the current rules.

Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said it was “gratifying” to get all-party support and noted first responders are twice as likely to get PTSD as other workers.

He rejected a push to broadly cover nurses and other workers, such as child protection staff, probation and parole officers and provincial bailiffs, as requested by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

“Where a nurse is engaged in a first-responder situation, which we believe they are in corrections, we’ve extended the coverage.”

The law also applies to correctional officers in jails and dispatchers for police, fire and ambulance services. Alberta and Manitoba have similar legislation.

“We will continue to lobby the province to follow Manitoba’s lead and include all frontline workers,” said OPSEU president Warren “Smokey” Thomas. “Workers in many occupations face trauma at work.”

New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo — who has introduced five private member’s bills in the last seven years to extend automatic recognition of PTSD coverage to first responders — said she was disappointed the legislation did not go further.

“We would like to see some broadening of the scope.”

Still, DiNovo said, the law is a step forward toward the goal of getting first responders treatment as quickly as possible.

“They want to get back to work and they can get back to work. That saves money.”

For the firefighters, Santoro said he wishes the law would allow the cases of first responders who have been rejected over the years to be re-opened.

Flynn hopes the bill’s passage will ease the stigma of PTSD and help first responders to come forward for help when they need it, which a new $300,000 advertising campaign encourages them to do.

“It’s a mental health issue . . . society just hasn’t paid enough attention to mental health issues in general,” he told reporters.

“If we can prevent people from getting PTSD…we think that is the preferable route.”

Also under the legislation, employers must submit PTSD prevention plans to the government and there will be an annual summit on the disorder where experts, employers and first responders can exchange new ideas and best practices.

“It can be managed, it can be dealt with in a good way, in a meaningful way, but at this point in time it’s incurable,” Flynn added, noting some first responders carry the effects for the rest of their lives

 

 


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Clarington Golf Tournament


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Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn Announces PTSD for First Responders

Ontario has become the latest province to formally recognize the serious toll that working as a first responder can take on a person's mental health.

On February 18, the province introduced legislation that recognizes post-traumatic stress as an occupational illness among fire fighters and other first responders, which will make it easier for those suffering from post-traumatic stress to access workers' compensation benefits and proper treatment. The legislation will benefit the 11,000 members of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association (OPFFA) and thousands of other first responders in Canada's largest province.

Dozens of OPFFA members crammed into the Ontario Legislature in Toronto to watch Labour Minister Kevin Flynn introduce the Supporting Ontario's First Responders Act (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), which will remove the need for first responders to link post-traumatic stress to the workplace, and which will also require those who employ first responders to implement post-traumatic stress prevention plans.

Ontario's legislation is part of a broader strategy on post-traumatic stress that the Ontario government announced earlier this year, and follows in the footsteps of Alberta and British Columbia, which enacted workers' compensation laws addressing post-traumatic stress and mental disorders, respectively, in 2012, and Manitoba, which enacted similar legislation for first responders last year.

OPFFA President Carmen Santoro thanked Minister Flynn and Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi for their action on such an important issue.

"The Ontario government is recognizing what we have always known - mental health is just as important as physical health," Santoro said. "With this addition to our presumptive legislation, fire fighters suffering from post-traumatic stress will be able to focus on getting healthy and not on navigating a complicated bureaucratic regime."

Santoro also acknowledged the hard work that OPFFA members have done in the political arena. "Our locals have done tremendous work building relationships with politicians from all parties. It's really thanks to them that we have been able to get widespread support for the government's initiative today."

Minister Flynn said the legislation will give first responders "the peace of mind they deserve" and that the accompanying prevention, resiliency and research initiatives round out a comprehensive approach to post-traumatic stress that everyone can be proud of. "Given all that we ask of our first responders, it is only fair that we support them when they need us most."

The Ontario Government says evidence shows that first responders are at least twice as likely compared to the general population to suffer post-traumatic stress, due to the risk of routine exposure to traumatic stressors.

Post-traumatic stress coverage is a welcome addition to Ontario's existing presumptive laws for professional fire fighters, which were first enacted in 2007 covering eight types of cancers, plus heart disease. Legislation phasing in an additional six cancers was enacted in 2014.

Earlier this year, Ontario announced a post-traumatic stress strategy for first responders that includes an awareness campaign, an annual leadership summit, free online resources and research grants. Learn more https://news.ontario.ca/mol/en/2016/02/ontario-announces-new-ptsd-strategy-for-first-responders.html?_ga=1.151289521.941338906.1311686280.

According to the Tema Conter Memorial Trust, a leading national post-traumatic stress advocacy group, 10 Canadian first responders have committed suicide so far in 2016. Last year, the group recorded 39 first responder suicides, including nine fire fighters.

Watch the video of Minister Flynn's announcement here: Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn Announces PTSD for First Responders  

 

 


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Bill 109 passes the Ontario Legislature

Earlier today, the Ontario Legislature passed Bill 109, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to employment and labour. It has received Royal Assent and the amendments it made to the Fire Protection and Prevention Act are now in force.

Among other things, this Act ensures that our rights are protected and brings us on equal footing with other organized labour groups in the province. Bill 109 also offers protection under the Labour Relations Act against such unfair practices as interfering with bargaining rights or intimidating and coercing members. The bill moves enforcement of our disputes out of the courts and under the Ontario Labour Relations Board, where they will be heard by labour relations experts instead of judges. These disputes can also be expedited in the same way that they are for other labour relations groups. This expedited grievance arbitration process will require that discharge grievances be heard within as few as 35 days from the date of grievance and other grievances within 51 days of the grievance filing. Finally, Bill 109 will require that the Rand Formula be included in collective agreements at the request of an association.

One final provision of Bill 109 will affect the way in which survivor benefits are calculated. The WSIB and its Appeals Tribunals are now required to calculate survivor benefits on the basis of the average earnings of the deceased worker's occupation at the time of the worker's injury or diagnosis instead of statutory minimums.

We would like to express our appreciation to the Minister of Labour, Kevin Flynn, and to his staff, who shepherded the Bill through the Legislative Assembly. This is another example of the kind of support this government has consistently offered fire fighters.


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Clarington Fire's new EpiPens save bee-stung senior

Emergency medicine for severe allergic reactions added to fire truck equipment just this year

Clarington This Week
By Jennifer O'Meara
CLARINGTON -- A Newcastle firefighter saved an unresponsive senior from a severe allergic reaction by using the department’s new EpiPens, added to Clarington fire truck equipment just this year.

“We put our first one to use,” said Clarington Fire Chief Gord Weir.

A man in his mid-70s who is highly allergic was stung by a bee on Friday, Aug. 7. He didn’t have an EpiPen on him and had a friend drive him to a Newcastle pharmacy to buy one. The pharmacy was out of stock and the man began to go into anaphylactic shock.

Emergency crews were called and the firefighters were at the pharmacy within three minutes. By the time they had arrived the man was unresponsive. Firefighters injected the EpiPen into the man’s right thigh.

By the time paramedics arrived, the senior was again able to open his eyes when spoken to by emergency workers. He was taken to hospital.

Epinephrine auto-injectors, or EpiPens, are used to help treat anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction some people have to certain foods, insect bites or medications. Patients suffer swelling, hives, low blood pressure and increased heart rate. If anaphylactic shock isn’t treated quickly, it can be fatal.

With firefighters often responding to local emergency calls before paramedics, Chief Weir said the pens improve firefighters’ ability to respond to severe allergic reactions.

In the fall of 2014, both adult and child EpiPens were added to the list of life-saving equipment on three Clarington fire trucks. All eight of the municipality’s pumper trucks were carrying the injectors come 2015. Firefighters were trained in how to use the EpiPens before the medicine was placed on the trucks.


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Winnipeg Fire/EMS combination works well

March 18, 2015
Editor
Winnipeg Free Press
We, the leadership of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS), express our profound dismay with
Mary Agnes Welch’s column of March 11, 2015 (“Firefighters skilled at manipulating the political system”). Ms. Welch had an opportunity to research and report facts as a service to your readers; instead, the article used only select facts that do not paint an accurate picture.
In this limited space, it is difficult to fully describe the tremendously successful integrated EMS-Fire model of the WFPS. Perhaps we can interest the Winnipeg Free Press in publishing a series of articles to fulfill that task. For now, we are hopeful the following facts will be published to assist readers in seeing beyond the limits of the article:
The majority of paramedics who work on Winnipeg’s ambulances are primary care paramedics (PCPs). They hold the same emergency medical education, qualification, and licence as those who work on Winnipeg’s fire trucks. In fact, the vast majority of paramedics in Manitoba are PCPs. Ms.
Welch’s characterization of “hand-holding” is as wrong as it is offensive. Regardless of the uniform they wear, PCPs are the foundation of Manitoba’s EMS system. PCPs are proud of the emergency medical care they provide, as are we.
A community’s fire service is part of its infrastructure which attracts investment of business, industry, and residents. Proper fire resourcing reduces the insurance premiums of homeowners and business owners, on the order of $2 in savings for every $1 of taxation to support fire service.
Fortunately, fires don’t occur continually, resulting in an inherent response capacity in the fire protection service.
Placement and staffing of fire resources is solely determined by response time to all parts of the City for fire-related calls. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guideline 1710 describes the response time standards to which urban fire services are held.
·

Integrated fire & EMS departments provide service to almost 60% of Manitoba residents, as this model is also used in Brandon, Thompson, and Shilo. Integrated service has existed in these communities for many years. As well, a number of other Canadian communities employ this model, and it is very common in US centres.
Winnipeg’s integrated model arose in the late 1990s and early 2000s due to the lack of capacity of the existing, standalone EMS service. Using the inherent response capacity in the fire service avoided significant duplication of resources. The integrated model framework was recommended by several independent consultants, was created in the mid 2000’s, and culminated in 2007 with negotiated work sharing agreements. These agreements remain in our practice today.
The popular myth that fire departments bolster their call volumes with medical calls to preserve their staffing is categorically false. In fact, if Winnipeg’s fire service ceased medical response, our staffing and resources would not change at all, and our net cost would increase significantly with the loss of several million dollars of funding we receive for our fire service’s contribution to the EMS system.
Equally false is the notion that sending a fire apparatus to a medical call is a waste of tax dollars. As noted above, that crew and apparatus would be on duty and paid regardless of their involvement in medical response. Indeed, not responding with that crew would truly be a waste of tax dollars.
In 2014, our integrated system provided average travel times to the highest priority calls of 3.72 minutes. Had we relied only on our ambulance resources, the average travel time would have been 6.73 minutes. Welch’s statement that “speed doesn’t matter” on these calls demonstrates a lack of understanding of medical and traumatic emergencies. We are confident that anyone who has called 911 for themselves or a loved one in medical distress would agree that having a skilled paramedic arrive almost 50% faster is critical, regardless of the vehicle in which they arrive.
In 2014, fire-based PCPs responded alone to 11,192 calls. Almost 90% of these were “person down,” “falls,” or “assist police.” This represents the call volume of approximately three, 24-hour ambulances. Without fire involvement, these three ambulances would have been unavailable for calls more likely to require advanced care and/or transport to hospital. The addition of three ambulances would further add to the tax burden.
Fire crews DO NOT respond to every medical call. We have used our many years of experience to hone the system responses to send the most appropriate resources to different types of calls.
Of 63,000 calls for emergency medical service in 2014, fire resources attended just over 31,000, less than half. We send resources according to the initial information in the call, then scale up or down as the situation presents.
·The efficiency of our system is demonstrated by impartial comparison to other cities. Winnipeg participates in the Ontario Municipal Benchmarking Initiative (OMBI), which involves many facets of municipal services. The 2013 data shows Winnipeg as providing among the highest number of ambulance service hours servicing the most calls at the lowest cost per hour among 13 cities. Winnipeg was among the busiest fire services, with the second lowest unit staffing costs among nine cities.
All of these bona fide facts were available to Ms. Welch for the asking. We publicly presented the OMBI data during our budget presentation on March 9, 2015. Regrettably, the only fact that Welch chose to verify with the City was the percentage of female firefighters in the WFPS. Her insertion of this figure to insinuate a gender issue borders on salaciousness.
While the focus of the article was clearly limited to observations on a political landscape, the selectiveness of factual reporting has led to an imbalance that not only slights the paramedics who serve our city, but also does a disservice to your readers by not accurately representing the integrated model citizens are served by. The March 16 column by Dan Lett (“Firefighter-paramedic rift harmful”) exacerbates the misunderstanding of the integrated model and its benefits to our citizens. We respectfully urge the Free Press to address this imbalance.
John A. Lane, BSC Tom Wallace
Chief Deputy Chief
Winnipeg Fire & Paramedic Service Winnipeg Fire & Paramedic Service

Rob Grierson, MD Joe Seewald
Medical Director Deputy Chief
Winnipeg Fire & Paramedic Service Winnipeg Fire & Paramedic Service

Christian Schmidt
Deputy Chief
Winnipeg Fire & Paramedic Service


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Download the OPFFA App!

Download the new OPFFA App! Search for "OPFFA" on the App Store for iPhone, Blackberry World, or Google Play for Android users, or click on the links below:

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Ebola Response: Medical and Behavioral Concerns

Keeping Emergency Responders Safe 
Dr. Donald Stewart, Medical Director, Fairfax County Public Safety Occupational Health Center
Jim Brinkley, IAFF Director of Health and Safety


So far, the IAFF's series of videos on Ebola preparedness and response has focused on exposure protection. In the fourth video, Dr. Donald Stewart, medical director for the Public Safety Occupational Health Center in Fairfax County, Virginia, addresses some of the medical and behavioral concerns related to responding to possible cases of Ebola.

  

WATCH VIDEO

Watch the entire series of videos here. More information on Ebola preparedness is also available online and on the IAFF Frontline app. The IAFF will be continuously updating this site with the latest information on the Ebola virus. 


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Ebola Response Information

As you may be aware, municipalities across Canada are preparing and revising emergency protocols that deal with how emergency responders react to a potential Ebola patient. The OPFFA has a representative at the Ebola Advisory Table to offer our perspective on this emerging issue.

At a provincial level, the Ministry of Health has described the threat of Ebola to first responders as low risk. Instead, the province wants to ensure we prevent individuals from exposure in the first place. Five airports across Ontario are screening passengers travelling from or through African countries for symptoms. Ten hospitals – including four pediatric hospitals – have been designated as Ebola-ready facilities.

Emergency staff in hospitals have received a directive (Directive 1) detailing their protocols for dealing with a potential Ebola patient. A response protocol for EMS responders is expected in the coming days. We will advise you when it becomes available.


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Safety Stand Down for Ebola Preparedness

The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history and has spread to multiple countries in West Africa. The first confirmed case in North America was recently reported in Dallas, Texas, where the 9-1-1 system was used to treat and transport the patient to the hospital. The patient has since died. The ambulance crew - all members of Dallas, TX Local 58 - have been taken off duty with pay and are under continuous medical observation at their homes. For more information on what you need to know about Ebola, click here.

It is highly likely that more individuals infected with Ebola will seek assistance from emergency response personnel as the disease spreads. The IAFF is urging every affiliate to conduct a "safety stand down" with their employer and review all infectious exposure policies, procedures and guidelines. You should assess your department's preparedness for responding to and caring for patients with possible symptoms of the Ebola virus and whether you have the equipment and training needed for safely responding to worst-case scenarios in potential Ebola exposures should this virus spread in the United States and Canada.

All policies, procedures and guidelines should at a minimum address the following:

Use standard precautions, including fluid resistant and or impermeable long-sleeved gowns, single or double gloves, eye protections, leg coverings, and disposable shoe covers. The IAFF recommends N95 respirators for all patients with respiratory symptoms.

If there is a potential exposure, or the crew thinks they have been affected, DO NOT return to the firehouse. After transport, remove the unit from service while at the hospital. If an engine and EMS unit both respond, they should stay together throughout the call to keep other fire fighters from potential contamination. Exposure reporting should be activated from the hospital or while in route to the hospital with the patient.

Establish follow-up and reporting measures after caring for a suspected or confirmed Ebola patient.

Develop policies for monitoring and management of EMS personnel potentially exposed to Ebola. Policies should be flexible in terms of the amount of time required for monitoring and potential isolation of exposed personnel.

Establish sick leave policies for personnel that are non-punitive, flexible and consistent with public health guidance.

Ensure that all personnel, including staff who are not directly employed to provide patient care but provide essential daily services, are also aware of the sick leave policies.

Ensure that fire and EMS personnel exposed to blood, bodily fluid, secretions or excretions from a patientwith a suspected or confirmed Ebola virus immediately:
1) Stop working and wash the affected skin surfaces with soap and water and irrigate with a large amount of water or eyewash solution.
2) Contact an occupational health supervisor for assessment and access to post-exposure management services.
3) Receive medical evaluation and follow-up care as appropriate. Medical evaluations should include fever monitoring twice daily throughout the Ebola incubation period, which is two to 21 days.

Establish return-to-work protocols according to EMS agency policy and discussions with local, state and federal public health authorities.

Fire and EMS personnel who develop sudden onset of fever, intense weakness or muscle pains, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains or any other symptoms after an unprotected exposure should NOT report to work or, if at work, immediately stop working, isolate themselves, notify their supervisor (who should notify local and state health departments as appropriate), contact an occupational health supervisor for assessment and post-exposure management service and comply with work exclusions until they are considered no longer infectious to others.

Identify a single occupational health representative for reporting exposures.

Fit test all personnel for use of N95 masks and provide them, as well as appropriate eye protection.
The transmission of the Ebola virus occurs through direct contact with blood and bodily fluids of an infected person. It can also be transmitted through exposure to objects that are contaminated by the bodily fluids, such as needles. Healthcare workers, including fire fighters and EMS personnel, are at the highest risk of becoming sick because they are exposed daily to many patients with common symptoms of Ebola and other infectious diseases.

The IAFF stresses the importance of consistently using standard precautions during every patient encounter and having the proper training and equipment to safely respond to and care for individuals exhibiting signs of Ebola.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides important guidance documents, most notably the Interim Guidance for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems and 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) for Management of Patients With Known or Suspected Ebloa Virus Disease and EMS Checklist for Ebola Preparedness. For more CDC infection control guidelines, click here.

For more information on what you need to know about Ebola, click here.


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Take a moment to watch this video and find out how important it is to have good response times in any municipality.

Ask your candidates: where do they stand on public safety?


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Six Additional Cancers Added to Presumptive Legislation List

Please click the link below to access the Press Release:

 

PRESS RELEASE - April 30th 2014


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Knockout childhood cancer

ABOUT BOX RUN
Box Run is a charitable initiative started by Mike Strange in 2012 in an effort to "knockout" childhood cancer. The goal was to raise awareness and funds by running across a portion of Canada, starting from the point where Terry Fox was forced to stop his run in 1980. The inaugural Box Run took Strange nearly 3,200kms down the Trans-Canada Highway, from Thunder Bay, ON to Victoria, BC. The run raised over $100,000, all of which was donated to Childhood Cancer Canada.

click for more info on the;

 

Event

Box Run route

Pledge sheet

Corporate sponsorship

 

 


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Muscular Dystrophy Canada Thanks Ontario's Fire Fighters

Ontario's Professional Fire Fighters raise $475, 977 for Muscular Dystrophy Canada


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Mississauga fire trucks now equipped with EpiPens

 

MISSISSAUGA - All fire trucks in Mississauga now carry life-saving EpiPens to treat people experiencing a severe allergic reaction.
Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services officials brought the news to City councillors last Wednesday.
EpiPens are used to administer ..........read more


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More than Fires- Ajax Fire Fighters


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Muscular Dystrophy Canada Danielle Campo Extra Mile Award

Congratulations to Sarnia Local 492 member Chris Ireland, on receiving Muscular Dystrophy Canada Danielle Campo Extra Mile Award


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LIKE OUR FACEBOOK PAGE!

Check out our new facebook page - click here

https://www.facebook.com/OPFFA


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Ontario's Fire Fighters


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EMS


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OPFFA Members

  1. Apply to become a member.
  2. Remember to sign in each time you return to the site.
  3. Some articles are only viewable when signed in.


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OPFFA Video Playlist


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Check out Fred LeBlanc's IAFF 13th District Blog

 


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MDC Says THANK YOU!

"Thank you for all you have done this past year for those affected with muscular dystrophy. We are so fortunate to have you on our fundraising team."

Pamela Musgrave

 


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