Civil Fire Defense in Canada

Civil Fire Defense in Canada

OUR civilian defence organization in Canada was initiated when the Ottawa Government immediately at the outbreak of the war set up the Federal A. R. P. Committee which is now under the direction of Dr. W. O. Gliddon, Federal A. R. P. Officer, In September, 1939, A. R. P. organizations were instituted in the coastal provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and British Columbia, with Quebec following in 1940, and in September, 1940, the federal plan was extended to include the province of Ontario.

The Ontario Civilian Defence Committee, which was constituted by Order-in-Council passed by the Ontario Government, is under the Chairmanship of the Hon. G. D. Conant, K. C, M. P. P., AttorneyGeneral for Ontario. Working with the C hairman is a committee of the directors of the five Services, in which the Deputy Commissioner of the Provincial Police is the Director of Police Services, myself as hire Marshal, the Director of Fire Services, the Deputy Minister of Health as Director of Medical Services, the Deputy Minister of Public Works as the Director of Public Utilities Services, and the Deputy Minister of Highways as Director of Transportation. For the head office work of the Committee, the Superintendent of Insurance has been drafted as the Secretary and an official from the Department of Health as Assistant Secretary, while there is a further clerical staff of two provided by the Provincial Police. Also there are fourteen Regional Officers to cooperate with the local municipal authorities in the fourteen areas designated as vulnerable by the I Jepartment of National Defence as districts in which the A. R. P. Organization is to BE set up. These Regional Officers are all supplied by the Ontario Provincial Police or the Ontario Department of Highways.

The preparations for civilian defence in Canada, and in particular for the province of Ontario, are very thoroughly outlined in the Handbooks published by the Ontario Civilian Defence Committee.

Fire Marshal of Ontario, Excerpts from an address before N. F. P. A. Fire Marshals’ Section and the Association of Canadian Fire Marshals, Toronto, Ont., May 12, 1941.

Civil Employees Used

Ontario has followed the principle of using civil servants for these Civilian Defence duties, and incidentally the same principle is followed by the federal and municipal authorities. There are a number of reasons for this, being briefly as follows :

  1. The Government has a greater control over the activities of the Committee than if enthusiastic amateurs were appointed who might either fail to be sufficiently diligent or go off at a tangent.
  2. When these duties are simply added to the work of men who are already full-time public servants, this avoided creating any new government departments. When there were no new jobs created and no salaries attached to this work, the Committee was in a much better position to call for volunteers from the civilian jxipulation for A. R. P. work.
  3. The directing heads of the various Services are the men whose ordinary peace-time duties are closely allied to these special war emergency problems of civilian defence and who customarily work with the municipal officials who must assume the detailed responsibilities.

Municipality the Unit of Defense

The unit of the civilian defence organization in Ontario is the municipality, just the same as it is in Great Britain, after whose famed A. R. P. organization ours is patterned. The start is when the municipality passes a resolution setting up the local C. D. C., in which normally the Chief of Police is the Controller of Police Services, the Fire Chief the Controller of Fire Services, the Medical Officer of Health the Controller of Medical Services, the city engineer or the works commissioner the Controller of Public Utilities Services and the Transportation Services. These officials are all chosen by the municipal council, but once they are appointed they work under the guidance of the appropriate provincial director as well as under the direct supervision of the local committee which is usually headed by the mayor or sometimes by some public-spirited citizen who can afford to devote his time and energies to this work.

In Ontario almost all of the municipalities in the vulnerable areas are organized under C. D. C. and are busily engaged in the training of their citizens to defend themselves and their homes. In our training scheme, all C. D. C. workers take first what is called the Basic Course, which deals with incendiary bombs, high explosive bombs, war gases, first aid, and an outline of the problems and activities of the five Services.

Volunteers Must Qualify

Only when the volunteer A. R. P. worker has satisfactorily completed the Basic Course is he given his formal identification cards, his badge and his arm band. Then he, or she, gets the training in the specific Service for which he has enrolled. For those in the Fire Services, there is a 60-hour training course given in C. D. C. Handbook No. 4, “Fire Services Manual.” This course is divider! into twenty 2-hour lectures, for which each chapter in the “Fire Services Manual” provides one lecture, and interspersed with these at least ten 2-hour drill periods with the actual fire apparatus and equipment. This has to be completed before the worker graduates as an Auxiliary Fireman.

W. J. Scott, Fire Marshal of Ontario, is in a unique position to know the needs of the fire service in wartime. His close contact with British fire-fighting authorities and his work in connection with organizing civil defense in Canada have especially fitted him to talk with authority on civil defense preparations.

In this article, Mr. Scott reviews fully the civil defense program in Canada. A close study of the work done in neighboring Canadian provinces will serve to guide us in making similar preparations in the United States. This presentation is well worth careful study.

Equipment Provided by Government

Under the Canadian A. R. P. plan, the federal government provides the special A. R. P. equipment needed, and for the Auxiliary Firemen this includes stirrup pumps for handling incendiary bombs and small fires, special scoops and rakes for picking up incendiary bombs, uniforms for each fireman, along with his badge and arm band, gas mask, rubber boots, anti-gas clothing, first aid kits, etc. In addition, it is anticipated that the federal authorities will set up a compensation scheme to take care of any volunteer workers, and their dependents, where these men are injured or killed, in the performance of their duties, including the training period.

Training Program Advances

Following a meeting a couple of months ago of the fire chiefs from all the vulnerable areas, which was attended by 46 out of 49 fire brigades, the work of emergency training is now proceeding rapidly. Most nights in the week members of the staff of the Fire Marshal’s Office are out aiding the local fire brigades in their lectures to Auxiliary Firemen. Incidentally. our Ontario plan for the training of Auxiliary Firemen is that first we are recruiting and training a class of recruits at least equal in number to the Regular Fire Brigade and who get substantially the same training as a recruit fireman. In an emergency these first classes will report to and work from the fire hall to which they have been assigned. Later, as the need becomes apparent, they will act as the instructors for the general public in emergency fire preparations, including the handling of incendiary bombs. When the training of these Auxiliary Firemen is completed, then much larger classes are to he recruited of Auxiliary Firemen for each Warden’s and First Aid Posts that are established throughout the municipality and whose duties will include patrols of the streets in the vicinity of each post.

For Protection of Civilians

Under the Canadian A. R. P. scheme, these defence preparations are only for the protection of the civilian population. It is of course passive defence as distinct from the active defence to repel the enemy lnforce of arms which is the responsibility of the military authorities. Being specifically by and for the civilian population, it does not include the defence of industry which is expected to organize its own defence. Nor does it include the Armed Services who also are expected to provide for themselves.

1 lowever. the hazards of fire, from either accident, sabotage or enemy attack, have not been overlooked. Another very important federal lire committee has been recently established, the Mar Services Fire Protection Committee, which will advise on methods of fire prevention and lire protection in Naval. Military and Air Force establishments, and for the federal Department of Munitions and Supplies and other federal government departments. The majority of the members of the Mar Services Fire Protection Committee are from the federal government dejiartiuents concerned, but among the civilian fire ex]x-rts named to this C ommittee 1 have the honor to he the representative of the Association of Canadian Fire Marshals. I he advice of this ommittee will, it is hoped, he of material assistance to these Services and elsewhere, to aid in reducing fires that might interfere with the war effort.

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