Canadian Fire Chiefs Call for More Federal Involvement and Assistance

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OTTAWA, March 21, 2007 � The failure of the federal Budget to respond to key concerns about a national first responder emergency coordination capacity and tax relief for volunteer firefighters has prompted the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) to call for an urgent meeting with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

Office of a National Fire Advisor

�Lack of Budget provision for the creation of the Office of the National Fire Advisor means the ability to carry out advance planning to create a coordinated and standardized approach to emergency responses across Canada will be severely curtailed for at least another year� said CAFC President Pat Burke in a letter sent to the Finance Minister yesterday. �A national strategy must be in place to ensure we are able to work collaboratively among municipalities, provinces and territories, and this should be the responsibility of a National Fire Advisor� he said.

Fire Chiefs have been asking the federal government to create such a coordinating office for a number of years and believe that with each delay, the chance of a national emergency that endangers lives and property because of poor inter-jurisdictional planning and coordination becomes more real.

Tax Relief for Volunteer Firefighters

The Chiefs also expressed their concerns about the failure of the Budget to address their on-going demands for tax relief for volunteer firefighters.

�More than 91 per cent of Canadian fire departments are totally staffed by volunteers. Recruitment and retention are growing problems for the Volunteer Fire Services. Failure to offer tax credits to encourage volunteers may result in small, cash-strapped municipalities being faced with the unacceptable decision to reduce fire fire services,� said President Burke, who is the Provincial Fire Marshal for Ontario.

About Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs

The CAFC is the national public service association dedicated to reducing the loss of life and property from fire, and advancing the science and technology of the Fire and Emergency Service in Canada. The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) is an in-dependent, non-profit organization with a voluntary membership. Founded in 1909, CAFC was incorporated in 1965 under the Canadian Corporations Act with its head office in Ottawa, Canada. For more information visit http://www.cafc.ca