Mark Clairmont |

TORONTO — The Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst is being “decommissioned” as the province moves to train firefighters closer to their homes.

In a release this evening, the Ford government said it is strengthening fire safety training across the province by increasing access to on-site and online courses in communities where firefighters serve.

They add that as firefighter training opportunities are expanded across the province, the Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst, which has not hosted on-site training since the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020, will be decommissioned.

It adds that Ontario Fire College staff will continue to play a leading role in developing training courses.

It says enhancing training opportunities offered through 20 regional training centres will help local fire services better meet the needs of their community and result in cost savings for municipalities.

“The varied and evolving needs of local fire services in Ontario require better access to training opportunities that are most responsive to firefighters and the communities they serve,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.

“By expanding access to local fire training across the province, we are ensuring firefighters can count on the support and resources they need to keep Ontarians safe.”

The province claims building on a regionally connected system of training centres, the Office of the Fire Marshal will deliver fire safety training through a combination of in-person training at regional training centres, online courses, and through contracts with individual fire departments. Expanding local training opportunities will increase capacity for training and reduce the need for municipal fire departments to pay for travel and costs related to overtime and shift backfills.

As part of this plan, the Office of the Fire Marshal is also investing in two mobile units that will bring live fire training to local fire services. Specialized equipment will also be made available to regional training centres so training can be specifically tailored to local needs.

“We have listened to fire services about the need to increase capacity for training courses and modernize the fire training program,” said Jon Pegg, Ontario’s Fire Marshal. “Moving to a blend of online and on-site training offered through regional training centres allows us to provide responsive, high quality training to fire services across the province.”

Kevin McNeilly, president of the Fire Fighters Association of Ontario, said: “The Fire Fighters Association of Ontario is supportive of this new training model which is being released. We believe more firefighters will have greater access to valuable training which will protect our firefighters.”

“The Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association supports the expansion of regional firefighter training centres and the modernization of programming centred around the needs of the fire service,” said Carmen Santorom, president of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association.

“Improved access to sanctioned education/training will greatly enhance the quality by standardizing the safe delivery of firefighter training.”

“The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs supports the modernization of firefighter training in the province of Ontario,” said Mark MacDonald, Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs Board president.

“The potential to expand training through a model that allows access to all regions in the province will be invaluable to help ensure the continuation of public and firefighter safety at a reduced cost to municipalities and fire departments.”

Gravenhurst’s Ontario Fire College is being closed as part of a provincial move to take training closer to where firefighters live and work the government announced tonight.

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