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Caledon’s outgoing Fire Chief reflects on career, fire safety




By ZACHARY ROMAN

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Caledon will soon have a new fire chief. 

Outgoing Fire Chief Dave Forfar, who recently announced his retirement, is proud of what he's accomplished in his time in Caledon. However, he was quick to credit his colleagues for helping make the accomplishments happen. 

“I have a wonderful, dedicated and professional team of people around me,” said Forfar. “My deputies and administration staff are the rock I hang onto that keeps me grounded and focused on making the right decisions to move the department forward — I sincerely mean that with all my heart.”

While Forfar was Fire Chief, a third Deputy Fire Chief was hired by the Town: a Deputy Fire Chief of Community Safety. Forfar said this was done to ensure the three lines of defense against fire were addressed in Caledon.

The three lines of defense against fire are public education, prevention and regulation, and fire suppression.

Forfar said public education is all about enhancing Caledon residents' knowledge of fire. He said people still don't realize how hot and fast fires burn.

“Expecting firefighters to be at your house and save your life is not a reasonable expectation,” said Forfar. “We need people outside waiting when we arrive.”

This message is being reinforced with Caledon Fire's participation in the #SavedByTheBeep campaign, which challenges people to test their smoke alarms and prepare and practice an escape route out of their house so they are ready in case of a fire. 

For the second line of defense, prevention and regulations, Forfar said increasing inspections of businesses, schools, and industrial/commercial buildings is key. If proper fire prevention protocols are followed, there's less chance of fires occurring, making Caledon safer for everyone — firefighters included.  

Forfar said while he was Chief, he tried to address mental resilience and volunteer retention so more people who became firefighters would stay firefighters. He also worked on partnerships in the community, with other Town departments, and fire agencies. 

While Forfar was Chief, Caledon Fire reviewed and rewrote Caledon's Emergency Response plan. 

“The new rewrite will help our Town staff manage any emergency with knowledge, professionalism and focus under the new guidelines,” said Forfar. “I am very excited about this new plan.”

Under Forfar, Caledon hired more full-time firefighters for the Valleywood Fire Station and hired the largest number of volunteer firefighters ever across Town in 2023. Forfar said he's proud of the increasing number of women firefighters in Caledon and the diversity of Caledon Fire.

Forfar said his advice for Caledon's next fire chief would be to keep developing good stakeholder regulations in the community.

“Reach out and spread the message that we want a fire safe community in Caledon,” said Forfar.

He said it's important to talk to residential developers and ask them to install sprinklers in new homes.

“Residential sprinklers will definitely save lives and allow Caledon to be named a fire safe community,” said Forfar.

Firefighters' mental health should also be a priority for the next chief, said Forfar. He said building firefighters' mental resilience during training and helping them manage trauma is important. 

As Caledon grows, Forfar said it's important to listen to stakeholders and the community. 

“We need to ensure a good command structure is in place,” he said. “Training of staff is critical and hiring of staff (needs to keep up) with the growth.”

Forfar said Caledon's fire department is a dynamic and evolving enterprise and its leader should “keep thinking in the future tense”.

Staying on top of the station location study each year is important too, he added. 

Finally, Forfar said the next Fire Chief should work with the Ministry of Transportation and the OPP to address road safety in Caledon.

“We have far too many tragedies on our roads,” said Forfar. 

Post date: 2023-09-28 11:21:48
Post date GMT: 2023-09-28 15:21:48
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