‘It’s scary’: Crew leader demands changes to wildland fire program

By Alex Flood
The Soo Today
March 10, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada East

The ministry’s Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services program has begun hiring crews in Ontario for this year’s upcoming fight against forest fires – nearly one month before the season technically begins. …But as recruitment and retention issues remain atop the biggest concerns for OPSEU – the union which represents fire rangers – veteran workers within the program don’t feel they’re prepared to adequately defend communities from inevitable blazes. …Former employees of the program joined Noah Freedman, a ninth-year forest fire crew leader, along with OPSEU president JP Hornick at Queen’s Park last week to share their disappointment with the “Ford government’s disregard for forest firefighters’ health and safety.” Their frustrations include inadequate health and safety training, lack of compensation for work-related illnesses and diseases, and “ineffective” protection methods like using bandanas and dry cloths to cover their mouths while in action. 

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