New projects to promote research, data-driven decisions in Canadian fire service

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A new partnership between the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC), The University of the Fraser Valley, and Defence Research and Development Canada will leverage the expertise of fire leaders and experts to promote research and evidence-based decision-making in Canada’s fire service.

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UFV is receiving Canadian Safety and Security Program funding of $134,550 to conduct two research projects that will:

  • Identify short and medium-term national science and technology research priorities for Canada’s fire service, and
  • Provide a framework that will enable fire services of any size to implement evidence-based policy and decision-making.

“We appreciate this opportunity to apply our research in a real-world setting,” said UFV president Dr. Mark Evered. “These projects will bring together industry and research in a way that will ultimately improve the safety of all Canadians.”

“This research will bring vital information and much-needed capacity to Canada’s fire service,” said CAFC president Stephen Gamble. “The future of the fire service will rely on our ability to make decisions based on predictable outcomes.”

“These projects are excellent examples of what the Canadian Safety and Security Program is all about, which is to create opportunities for members of the public safety and security community to work with science and technology experts to develop solutions that contribute to safeguarding Canadian lives and livelihood,” said Dr. Marc Fortin, Assistant Deputy Minister (Science and Technology) and Chief Executive Officer of DRDC. “By promoting the practical application of science and technology research, these projects will be a sound investment in our country’s safety and security,” added Dr. Fortin.

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These projects are part of broader efforts by Canada’s Fire Community of Practice (FCoP), an important element of the Canadian Safety and Security Program. The FCoP is a group of public and private sector leaders and experts in fire prevention, intervention, recovery, instruction, research and engineering, who are committed to research that leads to innovative, effective and measurable outcomes.

“Although the FCoP has no operational mandate, it can contribute to enhancing operations and reducing the impact of fires and all emergencies on Canadian communities by bringing together experts to share their knowledge, experience and expertise and discuss the needs and challenges unique to our community,” said Len Garis, Fire Chief for the City of Surrey. “As the chair of the FCoP, I look forward to overseeing these projects and working with my colleagues at the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs to both contribute to the projects and share their results for greater impact across Canada’s fire services.”

Research for both projects will be conducted by Dr. Irwin Cohen of UFV Criminal Justice Research, and by Dr. Paul Maxim, a Professor of Economics and former Associate Vice-President of Research at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Project Details

National Science and Technology Research Agenda

This project will identify for the FCoP the top five national science and technology research priorities for Canadian fire services that need to be completed within two years following project completion. An estimate of resource requirements for carrying out the priorities will be included.

The project will involve consultation with the FCoP and a national online survey of senior professionals in the fire service and allied sectors that will also be utilized for the evidence-based policy project. The research agenda project is expected to take three months and be completed this fall.

Establishing Evidence-Based Policy

This project will create a policy guidance manual that will provide Canadian fire services of any size with a framework for implementing evidence-based policy and decision-making.

The organic growth of Canada’s fire service, and the ongoing evolution of its scope over the years, means that the growth of some individual departments has been reactive and not based on best practices.

The focus of the project will be on enhancing the ability of any local fire service, regardless of size and resources, to carry out evidence-based priority-setting and utilize risk-management approaches in their decision-making.

The researchers will conduct an environmental scan and literature review to determine how Canadian fire services and allied professions develop and use evidence-based policies and procedures. They will also consult with the FCoP, conduct case studies and examine current practices in small, medium and large departments. The project is expected to take three months and be completed this fall.


About the Canadian Safety and Security Program and DRDC CSS

The Canadian Safety and Security Program is a federal program led by Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science. Its mission is to strengthen Canada’s ability to anticipate, prevent/mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from acts of terrorism, crime, natural disasters, and serious accidents through the convergence of science and technology (S&T) with policy, operations and intelligence.

DRDC’s Centre for Security Science operates in partnership with Public Safety Canada to provide S&T support and services to address Canada’s public safety and national security priorities. DRDC is the national leader in defence and security science and technology. As an agency of the DND, DRDC provides DND, the Canadian Armed Forces and other departments as well as the public safety and national security communities with the knowledge and technologies needed to defend and protect Canada’s interests at home and abroad.

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