October 11-12, 2017

Firefighter Committee Minutes

UNDE FR Steering Committee

 October 11-12, 2017


Serge Desbiens (Chair)

Blair Winger (Guest)

Carl Darveau (Quebec)

Ryan Stewart (Halifax)

Josh Peterson (British Columbia)

Mike Mymko (Saskatchewan)

Mike Strong (New Brunswick)

Jim Aubut (Ontario)

Jason Elder (Alberta)

Brendalee Blaney (Staff Resource)


Day 1 – October 11, 2017

Brother Desbiens welcomed the group, introductions of members are made

Discussion on how meeting minutes are taken, who should take them and should they be available for public consumption on the UNDE (Union of National Defence Employees) website. Also discussed if proper minutes be taken or a summary of discussion be documented instead. Brother Stewart agreed to attempt to take minutes. Minutes will be taken in summary form with details inserted when required.

Open conversation followed about what, from the agenda, will be discussed with the CFFM 2(Canadian Forces Fire Marshall) and Nicole Thomas (who were to appear before the group at 1pm the same day). Discussion was mostly dominated by the need for a better standard on the FR (Firefighter) group Health Canada medicals. It was pointed out that Health Canada does not meet the industry standard for firefighters. Needs that are currently missing include (but are not limited to): Blood tests, Urine test, Electrocardiograms and Cancer prescreening.

Comments from UNDE President June Winger

Sister Winger gave the group a brief overview of what was happening within the union generally and with FR specific issues: Bargaining is coming up and compensation continues to be an issue with the FR group, Treasury Board has said it has drawn up the letter for the individual provinces with regards to honouring the terms of the collective agreement with regards to presumptive cancer (the Union is investigating at what stage that is at), the group was informed that PSAC (Public Service Alliance of Canada) and National President Robyn Benson have committed strong support concerning the pension issues.

Sister Winger went on to discuss the Phoenix pay system. FR specific issues are problematic because department doesn’t have a consistent approach to things like Long Service Pay and Lieu day payouts. The Employer was supposed to have a strategy last spring on how to address issues and contact fire chiefs and find out common issues however; they still have not done this.

  • Brother Peterson suggested acting pay is a problem that is specific to the FR group due to our hours of work. Sister Winger suggested that Acting approval is often a manager issue or a departmental issue. UNDE can put pressure on the department to make sure approvals are done in a timely matter however the transactions on “trackmycase” are not always pay issue, they are often internal transactions with the pay centre.

UNDE is looking for another former comp adviser to work for UNDE to help with Phoenix pay issues and if people are experiencing issues of not being paid they are still able to get emergency pay advances.

  • It was suggested that any pay issues be grieved in order to receive payment. Sister Winger pointed out that we are paid by TB (Treasury Board) through PSPC, a manager, Base Commander or ADM HR CIV at DND (Department of National Defence) can uphold the grievance but has no power or authority to force PSPC to issue the payment. Sister Blaney concurred with Sister Winger. Sister Winger suggested that national problems go through her to the Deputy Minister responsible for the department however if the problems are in pockets or regional then you should address through your regional VPs (Vice Presidents).
  • Bother Peterson asked what was the Union’s direction with regards to Phoenix. Sister Winger suggested things like petitions requesting to scrap the pay system are not in the realm of reality. The pay system is here to stay. We want our members paid accurately and on time, however the Government gets there is beyond the Union’s control. With regards to retro payout for contract, the 150-day timeline for payment is not a requirement by law, it is actually negotiated. If it is not met the members can ask for additional fee’s (interest). Dockyard Trades and Labour charge hands were late in getting paid two (2) contracts ago and were able to get extra monies from delayed retro payments. PSAC is prepared for this outcome.



*CFFM was sent agenda ahead of time

**Group discussed agenda before visit with CFFM2


Martin Gravel gave a brief update of the CFFM world. Staffing changes at the office are as follows: There was the new addition to the office of a National RPP (Respiratory Protection Program) person (Lorraine Brown). A National Firefighter Standards Officer (former national training officer) JR Rene. He looks after all civilian and some military training. A new Policy Major (dedicated to policies) position had formally been vacated for 4 years.  The department also lost Cpt. Anca.  He was looking after PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) uniforms and equipment. That position is now vacant however M. Gravel is looking to replace it with a civilian position. Staffing it with a civilian will add more stability.

The IFSAC (International Fire Service Accreditation Congress) seals in Borden (17 total) are up for renewal next year. Audit will be performed by IFSAC. Some of the military courses will lose some of their seals however he does not anticipate any lost on the civilian side.

Fire Inspector training course is being developed into likely a combination of distance learning and courses at Base Borden. Attempting to make entire course two (2) weeks long.

Naloxone should be at stations and in med kits. 5th mod (administering to victims) will be added to the training. It does however fall outside of our areas of authority from EMR (Emergency Medical Responder). The Surgeon General, under which we operate is open to the idea, he has not said “No”. It is not a done deal however it is being pushed for, falls under same area as EpiPen. There is a recommendation with BOI to health and fire services to look at possibility of fire services to administer EpiPen.

Fire Chief Symposium will be at end of January. Same format at last year (fire chiefs come it for two (2) days) This year they will attempt to separate civilian chiefs from military chiefs.

AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam), specifically Class B.   More and more regulations on use in testing and training. Eventually any bases currently able to use it won’t be. CFFM is looking into training simulators, working with ULC (Underwriters Laboratories of Canada) and foam manufactures to find more environmentally friendly foams. Florine is the issue.

Apparatus procurement. There have been twelve (12) Rosenbauer aerials purchased. Some will be replacing the old Theibaults. First delivery is in about a month to Trenton. There are three (3) levels to the training. First will be for the operator. Will be nine (9) days with rep from the manufacturer. Second will be for base maintenance and third will be for maintenance at the Rosenbauer factory. There will be additional training requirements for halls before it will be able to be operated by individuals.

A new generation of Range Truck is coming. Weight balance of vehicles being looked at compared to older generation. 7- 8 are being purchased to be rolled out next year.

“Firefighter TV” (television) has been a huge challenge. Not much time has been spent on it. It hasn’t been given up on completely however there are not many resources to make it fully functioning.

Nicole Thomas

R2MR (Road to Mental Readiness). 95% of bases have completed the training. It will in the future be part of leadership and QL3 (qualification level 3) equivalent courses in Borden. CFB Esquimalt and Halifax could do another annual training to make up for large group of new hires each base is taking on. Five (5) videos being produced for R2MR training. First one should be out by Christmas.

Trial was done on specific bases for access to family resource centers to civilian firefighters. Hasn’t been any complaints. No stats have been gathered yet. There is access to 99% of what MFRC has to offer however child care is not available. Emergency child care is available however emergency family plan has to be filled out.

Offering the same R2MR to spouses has been discussed and an email was sent out looking for volunteers. They received no takers. They could still develop program with generic families but would prefer relatable volunteers. project will be picked up again after videos have been produced.

The “Body Bulletin” is coming back as a quarterly piece. First issue should be out in December.

Wellness committee meets once a year. It consists of three (3) civilian and three (3) military. The next meeting will address if there is a better way to do business (communication is not good, rotating committee members, development of programs is stagnant). TD money has been cut so video conference is being looked at as an option.

  • Brother Elders suggested having one (1) rep per fire hall to be on the wellness committee to improve communication.
  • Brother Winger suggested adding another day to FR Steering committee to have meetings at the same time.

Everyone in the room agreed face to face meetings are what is best for the wellness committee moving forward.

Cancer prevention

*The group had previously identified that prevention was a main concern. Ventilation within the halls and properly functioning vents for exhaust is an issue for some Locals.

A committee has been formed that will meet for two (2) days the first week of December. First day individuals will present their expertise in prevention in firefighter trade, their expectation and views of how program will develop and create a list on how this will develop. Day two will plan the way ahead (policies, programs, education). The focus will be prevention, medicals will be above what committee can address.

Sister Blaney asked who makes the determination of what Pre-medical screening entails. M. Gravel said discussions will be had with Health Services at working group meeting both on military and civilian side. Pre-screening has been discussed before but has been met with resistance from Health Services.

  1. Gravel asked what departments have implemented preventative practices within their halls. Some halls have been proactive but there are no standing orders in place for most and there are limitations in gear and equipment available to departments to properly be able to perform preventative measures. Looking forward there will be an FMD coming from the CFFM office. The directive will state to managers that “YOU SHALL HAVE A LOCAL SOP (standard operation procedures) THAT ADDRESSES…”

Discussions will be had concerning PPE. Scale of issue is usually 25% extra coverage and it may not be adequate. This issue should be discussed among the committee (is 25% enough?). Also type of PPE being used has to be looked at (there are new flash hoods available).

The conversation then moved to uniforms.

**The committee had previously discussed clothing amongst themselves. It was agreed that there is a need for a variety of clothing options for all weather types. The NJC (National Joint Council) does allow for personalized clothing depending on needs that can be purchased locally outside of main supplier. No department managers seem to be recognizing this.

Brother Mymko wanted clarification on who is entitled to Haix boots. They are in the system and they are required by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) for wild land firefighting.

Not a lot has happened since last year. The Department has not changed its stance on badges. The base or management has no authority to go outside of purchase point (Logistiks) with regards to station wear.  Two months ago, the CFFM met with ADM MAT concentrating on three things: (1) adding toques to the system (2) wild land firefighting gear (NFPA standard will be followed) (3) new station wear. Logistiks will be providing samples of new station wear. ADM MAT has asked to transition to an “off the shelf” product. Sample for station wear should be available in mid-November. The CFFM has asked for the most popular model being used currently by outside departments (ex. Ottawa fire Department) to be used.

Pants, long sleeve and short sleeve shirts are the only clothing items being considered for change. Job shirts and new Slip-ons may be considerations for the future.

CFFM2 was unsure of the entitlement of Haix boots to FRs.

The CFFM2 lastly also advised the committee that there has been no movement at all on a central dispatch for DND fire station.

** items that were discussed as a committee but were not able to be discussed with CFFM2

  • Command structure: why can’t FRs be structured like the military police? Command with the CFFM Office, not divided along a base level.
  • Training budget and allocation: there needs to be more transparency as to how the training budget is used at the base level. Can a committee address lack of or inadequate training? There is a lack of training options in French. Can a French speaking instructor go to the base requesting the training in French to deliver the training?
  • Hazmat tech and IC (In Charge). It’s difficult to find facilities to train to IC level. Also, it is an issue that most firehalls do not have enough firefighters within the minimum manning to properly work a hazmat scene. The overall feeling is DND may reduce hazmat needs from Technical to Operations.
  • Overtime policies: Does not come from and is not mandated by CFFM office. No hall within DND seems to have the same policy. Sister Blaney advised that the employer is obligated to follow the collective agreement.
  • Schedules: Situations arise where the employer seems to like to threaten to take away the 24hr shift. Brother Winger advised the same arguments used to get the 24hr shift are still valid today. There are no benefits in reducing overtime by changing the schedule back to 10/14.

After the meeting with the CFFM2 and Nicole Thomas the group closed the day with a general discussion about the bargaining demands that were brought forward.


DAY 2 – October 12, 2017

PSAC Speakers

Members of the PSAC (Seth Sazant, Liam McCarthy, Heather Finn, David-Alexander Leblanc) attended the second day of meetings. The discussion was opened to the floor to ask any questions. Brother Desbiens suggested the main topics of interest for the FR group were (1) Bargaining (2) Pensions for Firefighters and (3) Presumptive Cancer legislation and where it stands at the moment.

Brother McCarthy Spoke to bargaining. The key issue continues to be the gap in compensation for firefighters. The idea this round is to continue to use the pay study from last round (Hay Pay Study) and to look for the full completion of it. Brother McCarthy spoke to how the pay study was originally started and how it was used in the last round of bargaining. He suggested that the 2014 pay study is useful for this round as it is “relatively fresh”. The benefit of that study also continues to be that the Employer is implicated in it and that the FR group should be concerned with the current “big gap” as opposed to the possible future economic increases municipal departments may get in the future.

Brother Elder asked if the Liberal Party of Canada planned on re-establishing the Pay and Research Bureau as they had suggested as the pay study only goes to 2014 and we will be negotiating into 2019. Brother McCarthy answered by describing how the firefighter section of the Hay Pay study was developed, that is was based on a set of IAFF contract and that the findings of the Union were not far off from the findings of the Employer but the disagreement lies in establishing what the market gap is. Brother Sazant also noted that the Pay and Research Bureau does not give us a huge advantage as they can complicate studies and that is not useful in terms of bargaining to either the Union or the Employer.

Brother Winger noted that the problem with the Hay Pay Study is that we compare our senior firefighters with municipal departments 3rd year journeymen.

Brother Peterson asked how is the FR group going to be able to push the pay issue this round. Brother McCarthy advised that pay is a shared issue and we are in a better position than we have been historically. The hard data exists in the pay study and it is hard to argue that the FR group was “taken care of” in the last round of bargaining.

The question was asked if any extra monies like overtime and lieu day pay can be made pensionable. Brother Sazant advised that overtime is not commonly pensionable with any employer but he was uncertain if there was any barrier on any extra monies. Brother McCarthy advised that generally things that are pensionable are allowances that aren’t reflected in your classification base rate of pay.

Brother Strong asked the question as to whether the employer would change something like “Long Service Pay” from a static number to a percentage. Brother McCarthy advised that that is not outside of the realm of possibility.

The conversation moved to Sister Finn who addressed the group with regards to pensions as an “equitable retirement” most departments have the 25 and out and a 2.33 accrual. We are planning lobbying actions regarding this.  The FR Steering Committee reps along with UNDE Regional VP’s will solicit FR involvement if required. She advised that MPs may not be aware that there are civilian firefighters and the role we play on military bases and the mutual agreements that exist. The FR group needs to identify who we are, what we are asking for and why we are looking for (or need) it.

With regards to the Presumptive Cancer memorandum in the collective agreement, Sister Finn advised that the letters had gone out to all the provinces on September 14th and the PSAC will start engaging them to start implementing it.

The question was asked if and why is there the possibility for FR00s to be rolled over to FR01 in under a year. The consensus was yes. Then the question asked was should we fight to remove the FR00 level out of our group. Logic dictates that FR01s are fully qualified firefighters and FR00s are viewed as apprentices but both are hired with full qualifications. Brother Desbiens suggested that it be a question posed to the CFFM.


Paul Dagenais addressed the group with regards to a question brought up by Brother Peterson and the FR Group in Esquimalt: If we don’t agree with the FR work description can we grieve it? Brother Dagenais advised that if you don’t agree with your work description whether you sign your work description or not management has the right to decide what you do anyway.  He also stated that you can sign your work description and at the same time indicated that you don’t agree with it and that will be a red flag for Classification.  They have to address it. Brother Peterson noted that the Esquimalt local is likely going to grieve the work description and that the grievance will affect the whole FR Group as the work descriptions are national. The group thought that the work description should reflect our jobs as firefighters and anything that falls out of the specific task of emergency services should be more specific and be worded as “Fire related duties”.

Brother Dagenais advised it is our right as per the collective agreement to have an up to date work description but they have a catchall with the phrase “other related duties” already within the descriptions and trying to be more specific may not change very much. With all concerns with duties asked or made to do that we think are outside of our work description we should do first and grieve later however; if you do something that you are not qualified to do and it is not done properly, the responsibility for the mistake still falls on the shoulder of the manager.

Brother Dagenais went on to tell the group that classification grievances are not won very often because management has the right to manage, however we do have the right to an up to date work description.

CFFM2 Martin Gravel

Martin Gravel attended the meetings for a portion of the second day.

-The first topic was the compatibility of the ZOL AED (Automatic Defibrillator) Only two bases are having an issue, Valcartier and Esquimalt. Health Services have been engaged and a solution is being sought. There is no timeline for completion.

-Consultation with regards to clothing was the next item of discussion. For the time being Mr. Gravel will be handling clothing procurement. The general consensus from the group is that the rain jacket and winter coat are not ideal and Job Shirts seem to be the way every firehall wants to go. Mr. Gravel advised that for the time being there is no problem with wearing the job shirts and that there is no problem having it being locally purchased and funded provided it has the NDFS crest on it. The ideal location for the crest would be on the chest. Mr. Gravel then mentioned that he would issue a directive to the Fire Chief supporting the job shirt.

Note:   Following the meeting and after further review, the CFFM2 indicated to Brother Desbiens that he would not be issuing a directive as previously stated to the Committee.  He also indicated that the “job shirt” will now be a topic for discussion at the Fire Chiefs’ Symposium and that there would be no changes to present practice.

 The contracting out of “fire related duties” was discussed next. The CFFM’s view is that there are things we do well and things we don’t do well. The things we don’t do well are the things that we don’t have the qualifications for or do often enough. Anything more than a monthly test should be contracted out but those “monthlies” would preferably still be done by local firehalls to maintain local knowledge and base familiarization. Ground ladder testing is currently being done by some firehalls and not others. The plan is to purchase a standard piece of equipment to be put into the system for the firehalls to use nationally.

-Extinguisher maintenance is also something the CFFM is supportive of the FR group doing, provided we do it well and have the proper training. There is a ULC qualification you need to do portable extinguishers.

-Command structure: Mr. Gravel address the question of command structure, specifically having the CFFM be our command as opposed to the bases. He said centralizing the service is not in the cards right now. The department is currently not structured for that and they would preferably want to be prepared for it before and if it were to happen.


Brother Desbiens informed the group that he would be in touch to provide further details for the lobbying action.

Further FR Steering committee meetings will be scheduled in Ottawa immediately following the National Annual Firefighters Memorial Ceremony, second Monday of September.

Brother Desbiens adjourned the meeting.

Submitted on behalf of

Serge Desbiens


OPI FR Steering Committee

Note: OPI – I would like it on record to thank Ryan for taking notes and producing minutes, greatly appreciated.