Rapid Fire

Reducing Carcinogen Exposure and Managing Issued PPE

September 28, 2020 Battalion Chief Bob Keys Season 1 Episode 4
Rapid Fire
Reducing Carcinogen Exposure and Managing Issued PPE
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join Fire Chief Christopher Bowcock and Firefighter Paul Rushton of Burnaby City Fire Department, and Lieutenant Kevin Tomyk of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, with Chief Keys, to get an inside look into how their departments take steps to reduce carcinogen exposure and manage issued PPE.


  • Comparisons between having spare PPE vs. a 2nd set of gear
  • In house decontamination steps 
  • Ways to reduce carcinogen exposure 
  • Proper steps during on-scene decon for gloves and SCBAs 
  • Policy changes due to recent protests
  • Tactics for de-escalation training 


Fire Chief Christopher Bowcock started his career within the fire service in 1994 at the City of Burnaby Local 323 Department. He’s spent time as the spokesperson for the City of Barnaby, specializing in community risk and hazard, was the Union-Management Liaison for the development of Fire Departments, and is the past director of Burnaby Municipal Benefit Society. Currently, he is the lead member of the department’s COVID-19 Task Force and the designated leader for the Trans Mountain Expansion project

Lieutenant Kevin Tomyk of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, began his firefighting career in 2003. He is currently stationed at the Rehab and Decon unit department hall where he is an active safety committee member for both the department and the provincial association. Lieutenant Tomyk is also an elected officer for Local 18 Vancouver Firefighters, and a proud board member of the Honour Guard. 

Paul Rushton has been a firefighter with the City of Burnaby Local 323 Department for the last 20 years. He’s currently the chairman of the Burnaby Fire Department OHS Committee, has held a variety of positions on the Burnaby Firefighters Local 323 Union Executive, is a member of the Central City Safety Committee, and has served as the director on the Burnaby Municipal Benefit Society representing Fire Local 323. Paul is a certified Fire Investigator for the Province of British Columbia and is most recently the Union Occupational Health and Safety representative for the City of Burnaby Local 323 COVID-19 Task Force.


Battalion Chief Keys
completed a total of 31 years of service, beginning as a firefighter for a high volume station in the Bronx. As a Captain and Lieutenant, he served various municipalities including Midtown Manhattan, until settling into East New York Brooklyn, where he became Battalion Chief. Within his new role he took charge of Research and Development where he learned how new innovations are tested and introduced to the fire service.

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Season 1 Episode 4 

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to Rapid Fire, a podcast hosted by Fire-Dex, dedicated to sharing best practices and lessons learned in hopes of making firefighting a little bit safer. I'm your host, Bob Keys, a retired Battalion Chief from FDNY. Today we're going to discuss managing issued personal protective equipment.

We are fortunate to be joined by Burnaby Fire Chief Chris Bowcock, also joined by Paul Rushton. Who's the treasurer of the Burnaby Firefighters Local 323. Also joined by Vancouver Fire Department, acting Lieutenant Kevin Tomyk, who is the chair of the IFF Local 18 PPE Committee. Welcome gentlemen, for those listeners who're not familiar with their Canadian geography, Burnaby is a neighboring city to Vancouver with over 400 career firefighters in a population of about 260,000 residents. Before we get started, I would like each of our participants to take a minute or less to tell everyone listening an interesting fact about their firefighter’s career. Can I start with you Chief Bowcock?

Chief Chris Bowcock: [00:01:01] Yeah, thanks Bob. I'm a fire chief for the City of Burnaby Fire Department, 26-year member of this department. My uncle was in this department, so I come through a very traditional way. I dealt with rebuilding our PPE hygiene program and issue of second gear to all members. I take hygiene and PPE pretty seriously. I spent years teaching live fire at the Justice Institute of B.C.  (British Columbia) to recruits and professional firefighters alike. And also, my uncle, who I previously mentioned dying of line of duty death cancer related to his exposure back in the days when our PPE wasn't so wholesome. 

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:01:39] Well, thanks for sharing that chief. I can see where your passion comes from. The cancer epidemic is a scourge to the fire service, and glad to hear that there are people that dedicated their lives to making a difference for firefighters everywhere. You'll be able to add some very valued info on this podcast. Paul, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Paul Rushton: [00:01:57] My name is Paul Rushton. I've been on the department 20 years. I've been on the union executive for 10 years and on behalf of myself, my president, Jeff Clark, secretary miles, Richie, and vice president, Scotty Allen. Our team is very passionate, with regards to the health and safety of our members in our department. I've been on the occupational health and safety committee for 14 years with the city of Burnaby. I sit on the committee with the city. I also sit on a B.C. provincial occupational health and safety committee as well. So, a health and safety is definitely something that is passionate and in my background.

I also was a suppression firefighter up to about three years ago where I suffered a career ending injury and now have taken on a new role in the fire prevention division, along with, that sort of other side of the fence, which is health and safety to our members from a frontline view, making sure that our buildings and our city is safe for them when they enter and do suppression firefighting tactics so, definitely a different career path moving forward to the end of my retirement. But yeah, all in all definitely our union local 323 supports, our Fire Chief Bowcock in making sure that our members are well equipped with turnout gear, clothing, and everything necessary to do the job in the community.

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:03:22] Thanks. Paul, Kevin, tell us some interesting stuff about you. 

Lieutenant Kevin Tomyk: [00:03:26] Well, thanks Bob and thanks for your team for having us all this morning and allow allowance to speak about some of the processes that we're using up here in Vancouver and the general area for the lower mainland. Before I started the fire service, my employment was in the construction industry and the occupational health and safety.

When I caught on to the fire service in 2003, I got involved with our safety committee on our job, and from there progressed into learning more about how turnout gear is designed and used and proper procedures for cleaning and decontamination. From there we've, I've processed into moving with our health and safety committee and getting our members the best gear out there, for our staff to have on the front lines. From that, I've also joined Paul and other members of the lower mainland departments in sitting on the provincial health and safety committee, where we were able to share a lot of ideas and move, new projects forward. Because even though we're different fire departments, we're all trying to achieve the same goal.

And that's, you know, cancer reduction, and the improvement of safety for our members. Hopefully with programs like this and also us all in working together and we can collectively make cancer something of the past within the fire service, and that's my goal. Once I started getting into the health and safety within our service, and our hope to see that this is the start of some big changes for us, not only for our health, but also for our safety.

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:04:48] Excellent. Thanks, Kevin. What I'd like to dig into is a contrast and a comparison between Vancouver's policies of responding to working fires. What's the supply of extra spare PPE, so they can decon and take firefighters primary gear. As opposed to the very successful policy in Burnaby where each firefighter has issued two sets of personal protective equipment, and as able to just switch into a second customized set of gear. Chief, if you could explain on-scene preliminary exposure reduction in Burnaby after a structural fire.

Chief Chris Bowcock: [00:05:24] Yeah, thanks Bob. So, for each one of our members that are issued two sets of turnout gear, two sets of turnout boots, right from day one while as all the hoods are balaclavas and gloves. So multiple sets of gear. So really, we have members responding to fire, wearing bunker gear, interacting with the fire. We'll do gross decon, we'll do some finer decontamination and then while on scene, we have a, the second set of gear that's at the station brought down, for the companies that need to change out the idea being there that if we can get them into gear that properly fits them, that they're comfortable with, that they care for, that they're used to, they feel comfortable.

We can get them back in the apparatus, back in service, taking calls right away. Now we try not to roll them from event to event, but you know what it's like in the fire service, it's busy and our folks are already always ready to go to work. We need to give them the tools to do that and to do that safely, as opposed to. You know, a need for a rescue on your way back to the station. And you're, you're forced to get back into some gear that's unsafe for you and making some decisions that we'd all would make, and all have made in the past. That the more we learn about we shouldn't put that decision making on the folks.

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:06:47] Very interesting. Chief, could you explain the logistics of that who would be responsible for going to the various stations to pick up the second set of gear and bringing it to the scene? 

Chief Chris Bowcock: [00:06:58] Well in the city of Burnaby, we operate and engine companies, ladder companies and rescue companies. So typically we would have a, on a side rescue company go by pick up the appropriate gear, depending on how busy we are we bring in either overtime staff or we'd utilize engine and ladder companies if possible, but we would pick up that gear, bring it down to the site and then have it there so that, the folks can grab it. Many departments have the bigger departments to lead the edge, toronto's and Edmonton's, and now Vancouver's looking at it as well as an actual decon unit, you know, almost like a mobile shower vehicle where people kind of do a walk through and do a little more than that gross decon. They actually wash up and we're talking about putting everyone's second set of gear at the change of shift, it would pick up the gear and then come down to the scene and that's how we change over. But that's in the future for now.

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:07:57] Innovative, I like the idea. Definitely not having to bring contaminated bunker gear back to the fire hall is a plus for everybody. Kevin, if you could share with us what Vancouver's policy is for handling contaminated bunker gear. 

Lieutenant Kevin Tomyk: [00:08:12] Okay. Well, our process is a little different. We don't have two sets of gear for everyone, but we like to advertise to our membership that we have unlimited access to turnout gear for them to train change into. We have a cross staffed unit from an engine company, over to our air light unit, which has rehab supplies, decon equipment, and bottle filling capabilities, which also is accompanied by our clothing wagon, which has roughly about 150 sets of turnout gear on it, varying in sizes from our smallest size to our largest size, along with gloves and hoods.

And anything else, helmet liners, and that is required for a member to change out on scene. And so when a working structure fire comes in and Vancouver that's prost staff apparatus gets dispatched to the scene anywhere within the city, and we set up preliminary gross decon on scene rehab sector. And then from there, the members, once they're done on scene can then get changed into, another set of turnout gear, which is matching their current size and that they're wearing.

Now, we do have some normals on our job that we require a second set that they have is similar to the Burnaby process. And those are our members that are pushing 6'5 plus, and it's just impossible to have a secondary set available to them at any time. And so we've issued some of our members, the sizes that are not the average size within our department. So they have their second set but this allows us to constantly be changing out, turnout geat on scene and multiple times throughout an event. And so some of the circumstances that we've had in case is once that member's gone from gross decon and come through the clothing wagon process where they've now had another set of gear issued to them, it then allows them to go back into service, similar to the Burnaby model.

But if they were to then receive a second structure fire in their shift, we then have the capabilities of switching up their turnout gear again. Once they're switched out, then everything is bagged and tagged as per our policies and sent off to our in house cleaning facilities where it's then processed and then given back to the member, or it's sent back to the clothing wagon, determining where it is assigned to.

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:10:34] Excellent Kevin, thanks for sharing that. You're the first department I've seen across North America that had that response of a cache of generic sized bunk a year and was able to switch it out. I know we’re; we're living through some unprecedented times with contamination, with civil disturbances in the U.S. Where firefighters are going to multiple structure fires in one shift.

How would Burnaby handle if both sets of their issued, gear will contaminate, what would the policy be then? 

Chief Chris Bowcock: [00:11:04] Yeah, thanks, Bob. So, we also have maintained a cache of universal sizes or sizes throughout the entire range of our people at our station one. So, at that point we would have the company come down to station one and size up suit up. We're lucky that geographically we're not too big, we're very dense, but we're, we can easily get our release companies from an event to station number one and size and provide them with new gear. 

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:11:36] Hopefully not necessarily too often have to go to a third set of gear, but great to know that you do have that capability. Let's talk about inhouse decon. So, Kevin, you just mentioned that you guys have the capability in station to wash contaminated bunker gear. Can you elaborate on that a little bit? 

Lieutenant Kevin Tomyk: [00:11:55] Yeah, last year, we really ramped up our in house washing of our turnout gear for our members. This was put through our, astringent review of the NFPA 1851, and some of the best practices that we could adopt. We have three stations currently in Vancouver that do our gear washing and from that we meet the 1851 standard and also exceeded in some areas. After speaking to some of my colleagues, and with the in-house cleaning, we can usually return a member's gear. Our goal is 48 hours and it's been as short as 24 hours to have that gear replaced back to that member.

So, with our process, every member has their primary set, which is the one through five. So that gear is always assigned to them. And then the, once their gear is retired after year five, it then goes into our clothing wagon process or our folding wagon cache. And from there that any gear that's washed in house and get sent back to our station number 13, which has the clothing wagon hosed up, and then that's where all the gear goes. So moving forward, you know, washing gear, as it gets more technical and the inspection process and everything that's required, we are looking at a quartermaster system that you would have an assigned personal to that division. It would be strictly their job of maintaining, and inspecting, and cleaning of the turnout gear.

And I see some departments down south have already adopted this position and we hope to have one soon as it makes more things, more efficient and, you know, to clean the gear and get it back to the members a lot faster, especially when you're doing in house cleaning. 

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:13:36] Great. Thanks for sharing that. So just to clarify, does Vancouver use an independent service provider to do the advanced inspections right now? Or is that in the house also?

Lieutenant Kevin Tomyk: [00:13:47] Currently our advanced inspections are done by an independent service provider. Logistically this is where we start to get as a little bit larger of a department. This is where we're having some of those issues of me making sure that those are done on an annual basis and tracking down the members where their gear is and all that stuff. And so we're hoping to have a position in place that can monitor that at all times so that we can make sure that these, the testing and the service intervals are being matched for the standard. 

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:14:18] Thanks, Kevin. So in Burnaby, are we using an ISP or are you guys also doing in house inspections and cleaning?

Paul Rushton: [00:14:27] Paul here. We've worked hard with our occupational health and safety committee and the management team along with the union and the city. We're fortunate that every single one, we have seven stations or seven firehalls, and every single one of our fire halls have a washing unit. So our members can do it in house at their station upon returning we have high end units, we've got drier systems at each one of the halls. So, we have a very stringent decontamination procedure that was adopted very similar to Kevin. I think Kevin and myself came up with it for the B.C. We're on scene we bag tag, write it all down and make sure that gear never sees the light of day outside of that bag until it's either wedded down prior to getting into the washing extractor, or it goes into the extractor and is washed immediately upon returning to the hall or at the end of shift, it's left in. With the assistance of the opposite crew, they're able to manage it and get it ready for the next days tour. Our in house facility that does all the inspection of our turnout gear house happens to be in our own backyard, but with a five minute drive from our station one, and they do all the inspection and everything, as far as our turnout gear goes and it's close to home, so it provides us that extra advantage to get our gear looked up fairly quickly. 

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:15:51] Awesome, thank you, Paul. Just to close the topic on preliminary exposure reduction. I've seen some really innovative equipment in photos from a presentation that Kevin you've done around the country about Vancouver's air light unit. So I did just see a picture of a glove decon device that you guys deploy on the scene of the fires. Could you give a description about that as well as the way you guys clean off your SCBA cylinders? 

Lieutenant Kevin Tomyk: [00:16:21] After doing some research and speaking with some of the people that sit on the NFPA technical committee there, the importance of washing gloves and how dirty they are, but also the best practices of washing gloves and putting them through the extractors were probably not the best process that we were following. And so one of the things we came up with is, how can we wash the set of gloves without putting them through the extractor? And hopefully the, you know, the internal part of the glove is not dirty, but going through the extractor, having all that soiled water go inside the glove and then for the sin cycle, doctor extract it and then just dry possible particulate matter and contaminants inside the, we decided to think outside the box on how we can actually develop on-scene decon, of rubber gloves. Seeing how expensive PPE is, and we just don't have the budget for constantly replacing, we looked at building a contraption simply enough out of a plastic container with four brush heads in there.

Where a member then completes their hand inside and it's a vigorous scrub on the outer shell of the glove. So hopefully we remove most of the contaminants on there, and then once they go into the next step within our decon corridor, they then get a full body scrub with brushes and soap, and at that time the glove was rinsed off. Their glove is then placed on the drawing rack. Once they're back at the station and majority of our members have issued two sets of gloves, and once they have their second set, they then utilize that as their primary while there's other sets that was just washed is now placed onto a drying rack for them to then monitor and make sure it's ready to go for their next time of use.

And so with the contraption that we built, we feel that it's, it's doing the job. Otherwise, if we do have a heavily soiled glove that is unable. It's got paint or it's got something on it, tar. We have the capabilities on our environment as well to replace the structural glove on scene with a member if we're unable to clean it. And we've only started this in the last month, and we're seeing some great results from it as members are really buying into cleaning their gloves on scene and then taking them back to the station and drying them. It's helped our inventory on our holding wagon to stay at a large consignment. And so, we don't have the gloves going out every time someone's exchanging their gear out.

And it seems to be a success that we're working towards, and we're hoping this is a contamination reduction, instead of the gloves going through the washroom or through the extractor. 

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:18:54] Awesome. Thanks for sharing that Kevin. I know chief, you had talked about possibly getting a decon trailer to respond to structural fires. Are you specifically deconning SCBA on scene? Are you deconning helmets on scene? 

Chief Chris Bowcock: [00:19:08] Yeah, thanks, Bob. What we're looking at is some of the products that are being utilized in Europe for cleaning those hard pieces of equipment, specifically, the SCBA. The SCBA is kind of that hybrid piece of equipment that, has both soft components, right. That easily absorbed and need to be washed. And also the hard components that there's not a big deal that they're easy to wash. But what we've seen in Europe is, and there's some manufacturers in California that provide them these washing machines that you can put helmets in, you can put radios, all your heart equipment, everything, non-textile, and we've all gotten the back of a engine or a ladder apparatus back in the day where we know the young firefighters have cleaned the SCBA as well, but the next day you can sure smell the smoke coming off of them. So we're looking at that next level of how we can decontaminate that equipment, even though we're we're, we're moving to moving that equipment out of the cab of the truck to this clean cab practices. We still want to make sure it's clean, and so we're looking at some of those washers and how to change out. Currently, we'll change out our SCBAs on scene, through our, a heavy rescues and give the folks clean packs before, or they put them back on the truck. We'll bring those packs back to our station, number one, where we do some of our advanced cleaning and we're looking at how to clean that equipment more effectively. 

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:20:37] Fantastic chief great information, appreciate that. I'd like to move on to a couple of other very hot button topics affecting us these days. Most importantly COVID-19 and how it's impacted departments. Kevin, can you share how this virus has impacted day to day operations in Vancouver fire departments. 

Lieutenant Kevin Tomyk: [00:20:57] Yeah, it's a, it's been quite interesting times and I'm sure a lot of other people have experienced this as well. Some of the benefits that we're seeing from it is our decontamination within the fire halls, and the importance of once the shift change happens, that the on-duty crew is then, spending quite amount of time and we completely disinfect the hall. So our standard is, you're, you're sort of clean in. And so every time a shift starts is that new shift is decontaminating the hall. Once all the members from the previous shift have left and now that station is cleaned for those members.

We've been very fortunate that we have not had a positive case, within our membership, and I think it has a lot to do with some of the practices that we've adopted and making sure that we're keeping ourselves clean. On scene, anytime that we've responded, we're a basic, first responder program, because we have the provincial ambulance service here so it'd be similar to a state run ambulance service, and our call volume that's been dictated by them is been reduced because we're not going to a lot of the calls of our typical small injuries, just for the reduction of exposure to the first responders. And so our call volume has gone down. We're lucky enough to have access to good selection of PPE, which includes Tyvec suits, proper race gowns, kind of, or like a mask, and proper respiratory protection. And so our members are responding to all calls with Tyvek suits an N-95 or better masks, and also a face shield. I have gone to some of the cases where a child is hurt and there's a little bit of explaining to do, and we try to calm people down because we don't look like the average fire department responding anymore. And so it has been quite a difference in that aspect as well, but I, you know, I'm just glad to see that our membership has really bought into some of the initiatives that our taskforce has come up with and it is sure making a difference and we can see that with no positive cases within our membership and just, you know, we're, we're following the practices. And I think that, we're staying safe and I would hope that we continue that through this full pandemic that we're able to maintain the, the zero positive tests. 

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:23:12] I think many of you have heard that at one point FDNY had 2,000 members out on medical leave due to exposure or positive test results out of a workforce of 15,000 and it made a huge impact. And they had to revisit the policy of not being quarantining firefighters, just because they had been exposed, waiting until they became symptomatic only because the numbers of manpower were dwindling so quickly. 

Chief, how about in, in Burnaby? How has the COVID-19 impacted, your staff and did you have to quarantine anybody?

Chief Chris Bowcock: [00:23:45] Yeah, thanks Bob. We've had a few cases where we've had potential exposures. We've kinda played a really strong role in making sure we aren't bringing that virus into the station via our emergency work. We've been very effective with that, but we've had a few members that had some potential exposures who we've put off on leave just to make sure that they tested negative before we allowed them back in the station. Really hard on those people. They feel they let the team down, you know, our people are ready to go and always want to be there for their compatriots, but, they help us in a different way being home and we would make sure we cover their time. The other piece that we kind of looked at, you know, I'll mirror all the sentiments that Vancouver, I mean, they've, they've set a great practice and we learn a lot from them and follow them in many ways. We didn't diverge though really early in the virus when we weren't sure how and what was going on. We went to tie back suits as well and still wear SCBAs to all events where we could aerosolize the virus, by compressions, artificial respirations, bagging, or oxygen therapy.

That's a pretty drastic step. One of the key reasons is we didn't want to compete with the healthcare industry for the N-95 mask. We hear stories of fire departments and nurses and all those frontline workers having to reuse N-95 masks on multiple occasions or for multiple days, or, or trying to find inventive ways to do non-certified sterilization. And we, as a core unit, union and management, we sat down and said, we want to do whatever we can do, not to compete with those people who have no choice, but to wear an N-95. So we have an ability to wear SCBAs, we know how to do that. Our decontamination process looks like a hazmat scene. So we're getting really good.

All of our engine companies and ladder companies have really rose to the challenge. We're really  good with the  SCBA work. We're extremely good now with hazmat style decon by your base engine and ladder companies, and we're pretty proud of the commitment our people have made at their own discomfort to really display some of our core values to those other frontline workers. 

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:26:13] That's amazing chief, I have not heard of any other department that is doing CPR within SCBA on. You're certainly cutting edge, getting in front of this and I think that's honorable to not be one of the causes of having a shortage of N-95 masks for the healthcare industry. My hat goes off to you. Not sure if we've had much incidents of pushback towards police reform in your cities. I'm sure you've had some peaceful protests as they seem to be happening in every city. 

Has there been any need to change policies when being called to EMS calls or any type of emergency while there are protests going on, please chime in if you want to share. 

Chief Chris Bowcock: [00:26:58] We had some protests around sort of political protest a couple of years back. So, we've had some experience in Burnaby, not quite civil disobedience, but definitely congregations of protest. And we haven't had to change anything really, as far as that goes, just to be more aware, it ties in with the COVID thing as well. You know, that people aren't at their best right now. So, what we're trying to make sure our folks understand. You know that we are now, we're really getting people on their worst day. There's a lot of people who are overwhelmed. I know we have issues with increased number of overdoses, not to the extent of some other cities, but we're starting to see signs of people who are kind of overdone.

So our folks have been really good about it, assessing that and really seeing people in trouble and those manifestations of frustration. Working around them, accepting them as the conditions we work in, and just trying to deliver all those pinnacle pieces of influence that the fire service, and the IFF are so known for across North America and really in this tough time being that pinnacle that people can rely on. So we're proud of our folks for that. 

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:28:20] Kevin, you want to share with everybody what we talked about previously about the escalation training? 

Lieutenant Kevin Tomyk: [00:28:26] Yeah, thanks Bob. You know, with everything that's going on in the world today. And of course our environment is not as hostile as some other cities within North America. Is we work close hand in hand with our partners, with the Vancouver police and also the B.C. ambulance service on scene. We're all in a dark navy blue uniform, we're seen by the public as one. And so we've tried to adopt some of the new practices coming out and what's been lessons learned and everything on scene of de-escalation.

And not only is this for hostile environments, but also for mental health issues. Growing more and more within our response models. We're hoping that we can get some in house training for our company officers, and then right down to our firefighters, on the improvements of how to respond to a hostile situation or also a mental health situation and deescalate the situation, so that our membership is isn't being perceived as the agitators.

When they arrive on scene, they're there to help, and regardless of the person's on how bad their day is, they can help recognize that we've been summoned for their assistance. And we can hopefully, you know, if they buy into that then we can also train our membership on how to assist that further with some simple communications.

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:29:47] Yeah, vitally important, especially when you see these videos of, firetrucks being attacked with bricks, the anger level, and the frustration of people being quarantined or being out of work and financially struggling. It seems to have brought out, a lot of tension and anxiety. Paul, I noticed from your bio that you're a member of the Burnaby Firefighters Charitable Society. I'm sure firefighters, specifically in the U.S., are not familiar with that. I was wondering if you could spend a couple of minutes and just tell us what the charitable society does, what its purpose is, and how it's organized. 

Paul Rushton: [00:30:21] Well, thank you, Bob. Our Burnaby Firefighters Charitable Society is a society that all the union executive members are the directors and all our members participate in raising funds and money for our society. Usually pre COVID, we'd have some major events like our charitable ball, which has been running for almost 30 years straight. we have a charitable golf tournament; we got a healthy snack food program where we distribute healthy snack foods to all the elementary schools in our city and our community centers.

So, we reach out and we're able to provide snacks to the underfunded and those that go to school hungry. We also provide CPR training for all the high schools and the grade tens as part of our, a charitable society. And most recently with COVID we had an opportunity to identify over 400 families that were in need of food, and they were identified by the school system, and our members rose to the challenge over three days and volunteered all their own time. That's one thing that's very important to note is that we volunteer our time in the community. So, everything part of the charitable society, and we give back to the community.

And we have a great relationship with our new mayor who was an ex firefighter of our department, which is special and unique that we're able to coordinate with our department. Our city mayor and our, our members of local 323 to deliver that product back to the community. We've done things like, help feed the homeless. We are instrumental not only from an emergency response, but also on the other side and the charitable response, being able to give back to the community and be a special part of that, so that we work hand in hand with everybody so that our citizens of our community are definitely looked after us. The Burnaby Firefighters Charitable Society is very, very special. And we definitely pride ourselves and our members on their volunteering time and giving back to the community. 

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:32:21] Awesome, thank you for sharing that, Paul, that that's an honorable calling true to the core of what firefighters are all about, selflessly giving of themselves to help protect and save the lives. Get better quality of life to the citizens that live in our community that we serve. Fantastic. With that, I want to thank all three of you gentlemen, for taking your time today to share your experiences and innovative ways to make firefighting a little bit safer.

Look forward to talking to you all in the future to see how these new innovative ideas pan out and want to say thank you and have a fantastic day. 

Chief Chris Bowcock: [00:32:57] Thanks Bob. 

Lieutenant Kevin Tomyk: [00:32:58] Thanks Bob. We appreciate it. 

Paul Rushton: [00:33:00] Thank you, Bob. Appreciate it. 

Bob Keys, Retired FDNY Battalion Chief: [00:33:03] Thanks for joining us on this episode of Rapid Fire. Follow Fire-Dex on social media or visit FireDex.com for podcast updates, or products and news.



Preliminary Exposure Reduction and Issuing PPE
In-House Decontamination
On Scene Decontamination for Gloves & SCBAs
How COVID19 has Impacted the Fire Service & Cleaning Procedures
Police Reform & Policy Change Due to Protests
De-Escalation Training for Fire Departments
Burnaby Firefighter's Charitable Society
Closing Remarks