AFCA Chiefs in the Legislature a Success!

by | Apr 24, 2024 | General News

A Resounding Success at the Legislature

Celebrating the Triumph of the Fire Chiefs Event

The inaugural Fire Chiefs at the Legislature event marked a significant milestone, showcasing the dedication and unity of our firefighting community across Alberta. The event not only highlighted the critical discussions around fire safety and management but also celebrated the overwhelming positive reception of our department challenge coins by Ministers and the Premier.

Celebrating Leadership and Success

Making Connections With Our Leaders

Strategic Initiatives for Enhanced Fire Management

Provincial Wildfire Strategy & Wildland Urban Interface Program Review

In response to the increasing challenges posed by wildland fires, we are advocating for a robust Provincial Wildfire Strategy that aims to enhance collaboration between government ministries, the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA), Alberta Municipalities (AM), and other key stakeholders. The strategy focuses on developing a sustainable framework for managing large-scale wildland fires outside the Forest Protection Areas of Alberta. This includes boosting funding and provincial capabilities for FireSmart programs and ensuring that municipalities outside Forest Protected Areas have access to specialized wildland fire resources, such as Fire Behaviour Analysts. Additionally, we proposed the establishment and maintenance of seasonal wildland fire suppression crews to bolster our readiness and response capabilities.

Parallel to this, a comprehensive review of the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) program is crucial. Our goal is to ensure the program remains effective and responsive to the needs of our communities and the evolving environmental conditions. The review will involve a detailed examination of the WUI-Structural Protection program’s effectiveness, the development and delivery of training across Alberta’s Fire Services, and the accessibility of training materials to all fire departments and training officers in Alberta. To foster inclusivity and comprehensive feedback, the program’s administration is recommended to engage a diverse committee of fire service leaders, including representatives from municipalities within and outside forest protection areas, First Nation and Metis communities, and post-secondary institutions. Establishing a Provincial Fire Services Advisory Committee (see more below) is envisioned to oversee these initiatives, ensuring a coordinated approach across multiple ministry portfolios to address the complex challenges of fire management in Alberta.

The Need for a Provincial Fire Services Advisory Committee

The formation of a Provincial Fire Services Advisory Committee is crucial to effectively address the complex and varied challenges facing fire services throughout Alberta. By bringing together expertise from various sectors, the committee will play a pivotal role in enhancing the coordination and effectiveness of fire management strategies, ensuring that our communities remain safe and well-protected against the increasing threat of wildfires.

Addressing Fire Fighter Pensions

AFCA passed a resolution to explore volunteer firefighter pension plan. The current situation is volunteer firefighters and others in less-than-part-time roles currently can’t participate in Alberta’s public service pension plans. We shared with Government officials we met with that we are working with Alberta Counsel to provide research into what is occurring in other provinces such as BC and Ontario, to develop the background for considerations.
We have an open invitation to meet with Local Authorities Pension Plan to discuss what a pension could look like and approach that avenue when the appropriate time comes.
We feel this would be an attraction to recruitment and retention for volunteer and paid on call firefighters.

We are also advocating for reducing the Firefighter pension factor from eighty-five (85) to eighty (80). Again, we emphasized with engaged MLAs that we are asking for support to engage Alberta Pensions Services Corporation, Alberta Municipalities, to explore pension changes to acknowledge the increased health risks firefighters and chief fire officers face by reducing the pension factor from eighty-five (85) to eighty (80) similar to other provinces.

Firefighters in Alberta have historically been treated the same as office employees in terms of pensionable time. Evidence based research shows that occupational risks such as cancer, occupational stress injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, amongst other psychological and health illnesses and injuries are higher in firefighters than the average population. Those firefighters who dedicate tenures of long-service to their communities and the Province of Alberta deserve adequate recognition and support in their retirement from the fire service.  In all conversations there is quiet high level support for this concept of change, however the Pension reform will take time, however aligning ourself with the right people working on this initiative will continue to move this forward.

Join Us for Future Triumphs

Building on the success of our recent Fire Chiefs at the Legislature event, we invite you to stay engaged as we continue to shape the future of fire services in Alberta.  Updates of the ripple affect our first Alberta Fire Chiefs Association day at the Legislature will be forthcoming and posted here in our Advocacy updates. 


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