Canadian Haz-Mat Program Holds First Train-the-Trainer Course

February 26 • 2018

The IAFF’s Canadian Haz-Mat & CBRNE Training Initiative has taken another leap forward, with the first train-the-trainer course in Kitchener, Ontario.

Following a successful First Responder Operations (FRO) class for 25 students from three fire departments, the Kitchener Fire Department hosted a train-the-trainer course in early October for 11 Kitchener fire fighters and two Brantford fire fighters who are now qualified to deliver the IAFF course. In late October and early November, the Kitchener Fire Department Shift Training Instructors successfully trained and certified 30 members to the First Responder Operations level.

Training Director for the Kitchener Fire Department Stephan MacInnis says the department has a significant need for haz-mat training in the future due to a recent change in its response model, which includes the development of a technical rescue team of 11 personnel per platoon to respond to all technical emergencies, including hazardous materials calls. The plan is to train all 185 members of the department to the operations level in haz-mat response.

“It made the most sense to go with the IAFF model,” he says. “It’s a good quality course, and there’s flexibility built into the program. We couldn’t have everyone attend the Ops course because of shift issues, so we went with train-the-trainer.”

An in-house training session for tech team members is already planned for April, and MacInnis also notes that because Kitchener has the largest fire department in Waterloo Region, it plans to eventually offer an Ops-level course to first responders from other agencies in the area.

Kitchener Local 457 President Stephen Jones says the benefits to fire fighters and public safety in the region will be immeasurable, and the feedback from students is excellent. “Everything went very smooth. They learned not just the theoretical material, they learned from someone who’s been there, done that and could relay their own personal experience.”

The Canadian Haz-Mat & CBRNE Training Initiative was announced in 2007 by the Canadian government as a direct result of IAFF lobbying at the federal level. Since 2009, the program has trained more than 5,400 first responders in more than 500 communities to a recognized level of response, thanks to funding contributions from the government.

Originally established as a five-year initiative, the program, which is Pro Board certified, has received several extensions and is currently funded through March 2019. The courses are delivered free to municipalities by IAFF master instructors, and the course is available in both English and French