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Fire Statistics Issue in Motion on Parliament Hill

June 20, 2014 -- The longstanding issue of national fire service statistics got a shot in the arm June 19 thanks to the efforts of an IAFF ally on Parliament Hill.

New Democratic Party (NDP) MP Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster, BC) drafted a private member’s motion that calls for the establishment of a national database for the collection and dissemination of national fire service statistics in Canada.

M-525 is now in the queue for private members' business and will be debated in the House of Commons as early as the fall if it is chosen to proceed. In the meantime, the motion draws new attention to the fact that there is virtually nothing in terms of comprehensive, national fire service statistics in Canada.

The IAFF and other public safety stakeholders have long said that the federal government should take a leadership role by giving an agency or department the mandate to collect a wide range of data about the fire service using uniform reporting criteria, and to analyze that data and make it available to the public. Comprehensive fire service statistics would allow elected leaders and public safety officials to identify and address trends affecting public and fire fighter safety, and allow the IAFF and other stakeholders to more effectively advocate those issues.

Currently, fire service statistics are the responsibility of provincial fire marshals and fire commissioners, but there is no uniformity in the type of information recorded from province to province, and no effort is made to merge provincial data into a national report. Some provinces are years behind in their fire statistics, which makes a reliable and up-to-date national report impossible.

"For public safety reasons, this is an extremely important initiative and I am happy to work again with the IAFF and fire fighters across Canada to move this project forward," says Julian, a longtime friend of Canada’s professional fire fighters. In 2005, he worked hard to secure the adoption of Motion M-153, which urged the Canadian government to establish a national Public Safety Officer Compensation (PSOC) benefit.

In 2011, the IAFF applauded an initiative that saw $149,500 in federal funding go to the University of Fraser Valley in British Columbia to explore the development of a web-based system for national fire service statistics. But the initiative has not yet produced any fire service statistics.

Text of M-525:

M-525 — June 19, 2014 — Mr. Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster) — That, in the opinion of the House, the government should support the creation, continued maintenance and funding of a national database that would include relevant fire information from all regions of Canada, as provided by provincial and municipal fire departments, in order to systematically collect comprehensive data and organize and disseminate information, with the goal of (i) increasing safety measures to the community, (ii) providing better protection to the health and well-being of firefighters and other first responders, (iii) helping the government to improve the Canadian Fire Service.

More information about the IAFF position on national fire service statistics is available here.

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