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HRM and Firefighters Disagree on Interpretation of OHS Appeal Board Decision
(Tuesday, June 24, 2008) Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency (HRFE) have received an Order from the Nova Scotia Occupational Health & Safety Appeal Board, which is being interpreted differently by the Union (International Association of Firefighters) and HRFE.
There are two different opinions of what the Appeal Board has ordered. The International Association of Firefighters is interpreting the Order to mean that there must be at least four (4) firefighters from a single station responding to a structural fire. Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency management are of the opinion that their current policy, which states that interior structural fire attacks are only carried out with a crew of four (4) firefighters on scene but that these four can be from more than one station, is in keeping with the intent of the Nova Scotia Occupational Health & Safety Appeal Board Order. This policy ensures that there are four qualified firefighters on the scene before internal operations are initiated for a structural fire.
"We are all in agreement that protecting the health and safety of our firefighters is of utmost importance," says Fire Chief Bill Mosher. "That is not at issue here. At issue is the means in which a station responds. Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency remain firm that four (4) firefighters must be at a structural fire before proceeding with an interior attack."
A number of firefighters in HRM are invoking their right to refuse to respond to a structural fire if there are not at least four firefighters from the same station responding to the call. All other emergencies other than structural fires are not affected by this right to refuse.
All Fire Stations in HRM, incorporate a process (multi-station response) whereby, a neighbouring station is called immediately upon an emergency call.
Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency want to assure the public that their safety, as always, is a priority.
Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency