Safeguarding firefighters

A bill aimed at safeguarding firefighters will be voted on in the Ontario legislature on April 6. The Rea and Walter Act, introduced by Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece,  is named for two North Perth firefighters, Ken Rea and Ray Walter, who lost their lives battling a fire in March 2011.

If passed, the bill will help address one of the contributing factors in that tragedy: firefighters had no way of knowing the building used truss and lightweight construction.

The bill would require most commercial and industrial buildings, as well as larger multi-family dwellings, to display an emblem alerting fire crews to a building’s use of such construction.

The bill originated with a 2012 resolution by North Perth Fire Chief Ed Smith asking the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) to petition the province to make it mandatory that all such buildings be placarded.

Pettapiece worked with local firefighters and fire chiefs to help craft the bill, which would be similar to bylaws enacted in some municipalities.

Research indicates structural failure in a burning lightweight construction building can occur in as little as six minutes. It’s just common sense to provide a warning to fire fighters when they are exposed to such a risk.

Here’s hoping this bill quickly becomes law.