By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Alberta Fire Services Core Competency Framework was developed and implemented by the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association (AFCA) to support fire services across Alberta.
“It’s a free online tool that fire personnel or communities or municipalities can use to do a risk assessment of their municipality,” Lisa MacLean, Executive Director of the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association said.
MacLean says that although the tool is free, those using it need to create a profile in order to use it. Once a user has created a profile, MacLean says, the tool takes them through a series of a series of questions about their community, such as: is your community in a forested protected area? Does your community have rail next to it? Does your community have buildings higher than 60 feet?
“Then, what it does once you’ve completed the questions, it spits out a report that the fire personnel can provide to their council that gives an overview of the risk assessment of the community, and if they have the proper equipment, the proper personnel, and the proper training,” MacLean said. “And it provides recommendations in there, what training courses to take and job performance requirements.”
MacLean emphasizes that the information that the tool provides is not biased in any way and is all based on existing information such as occupational health and NFPA standards. The AFCA, MacLean says, always updates the tool based on the latest standards and legislation.
The Alberta Fire Services Toolkit – Community Planning and Emergency Response, MacLean says, was first begun in 2018 by the AFCA and Transitional Solutions Inc. was enlisted to provide assistance to fire services in Alberta during that time, and this history is listed on the AFCA website. MacLean says that at the same time, surveys regarding fire services in communities with populations of less than 20,000 people were conducted by TSI and Banister Research and the data from those surveys was utilized to make an array of proposals about service and training in the province. MacLean says that the toolkit was finally presented for the first time in 2019 at the AFCA Annual General Meeting, the Canadian Fire Chiefs Association’s annual Fire-Rescue Canada Stakeholder Event in Calgary. The tool, MacLean says, was also showcased to AUMA in 2020 and upgraded with feedback from users to include several new features, including the ability to print Community Risk Profile, Customized Level of Service, and Service Competencies reports. Finally, the AFCA website states, in 2021, the tool had Council Packages added to it so that Fire Chiefs could utilize them in their Risk Management Framework.
“Our Alberta Fire Service Core Competency Framework provides a recommendation based on existing standards of what training level fire personnel need to have in their community based on what’s in their community, like the risk assessment,” MacLean said. “And it’s just a recommendation. It’s not a you must do, it’s just this is where your community stands in relation to existing legislation.”
MacLean says that the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association was recently at the 2023 Alberta Municipalities Convention and Trade Show for numerous reasons including to promote the Alberta Fire Services Core Competency Framework, along with examples of the reports it can produce, because it can provide much of the information that is missing due to the fact that the Province of Alberta does not have a Fire Services Act.
“Where some of our neighbouring provinces have Fire Services Acts, which stipulates a minimum standard of fire service in the community, Alberta does not have a Fire Service Act, but this Alberta Fire Service Core Competency Framework can provide that in absence of an act because it is based on existing legislation such as Occupational Health and Safety and National Fire Protection Association standards,” MacLean said. “Emergency preparedness saves lives.”
The Alberta Fire Chiefs Association, MacLean says, was incorporated in 1961 and is a not-for-profit organization that represents the voice of approximately 500 fire chiefs within the entire province.
For more information about the Alberta Fire Services Core Competency Framework, visit: https://toolkit.abfirechiefs.ca/