CFAA Response to City of Toronto Charges

(Posting Date: 09/08/18)

CFAA Response to City of Toronto Charges
As many of you are aware by now it was announced on May 31st 2018, that after an extensive investigation by Toronto Fire Services, 58 charges were laid for violations of the Ontario Fire Code against a number of companies and individuals. All the companies and named individuals can be traced back to one actual individual as identified in the report.
As part of this, another investigation was launched in parallel by the City of Toronto’s Auditor General’s Office in relation to these same companies and individuals performing work for the City of Toronto, including some high profile public buildings. If you have not had a chance to read the full report by the Auditor General then I urge you to do so and it can be reached at the following link:
or by going to the City of Toronto website and following the links to the Auditor General’s Office.
It is primarily these charges, as well as the report that I am going to discuss here, including the CFAA position, our participation and the feedback I have received from our members.
First off let me state, that the CFAA strongly supports the laying of charges based on the evidence provided, and believe that there is no place in the industry for the actions as identified of any person or company.  As always the individual or company is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law but in many cases some of the charges laid were summary fine offences listed in the Ontario Fire Protection and Prevention Act. The actions of these individuals and companies are contrary to the CFAA Code of Ethics and should never be accepted. After the news was announced, I attended two CFAA Seminars and the overwhelming response from technicians in attendance was that these things cannot be condoned and individuals and companies such as these are a stain on the overwhelming majority of technicians and companies doing honest, professional work across the country every day.
As a background, the CFAA had been aware for a number of months of the investigations going on and cooperated fully with both the Toronto Fire Services and the Auditor General’s Office upon their formal request to do so. When the CFAA receives a formal request from an AHJ to verify the registration and training of a technician, we are compelled to do so. The release of such information is governed by the applicable privacy rules as well as Access to Information and each request is reviewed on a case by case basis. In addition, the CFAA provided back ground information and support to the Auditor General to help the office better understand the Life Safety Industry as a whole, not only the Fire Alarm industry. Let me be clear, that the charges laid and findings of the report not only dealt with improper inspections and servicing of Fire Alarms but also those of Emergency Lighting, Fire Extinguishers and Fixed Suppression Systems as well as Sprinkler and Water Based Fire Protection Systems.
I will not address any issue that have been made in the report as to indications of fraud or intentionally misleading clients as I believe the evidence in the reports speaks for itself. The CFAA was referenced in the report due to one of the named parties being active in the CFAA. The CFAA has no record of this individual or of any association at any time with us. Some of the charged organizations were never members, or no longer members of the CFAA and were using our Member Logo without authorization. We have amended our Membership Policy so that any company or individual applying for Membership will be vetted and must be approved at the next available Board Meeting prior to them being granted Membership. As per our By-Laws, a company that does not adhere to the Code of Ethics will be removed as a Member.
Late last year we created our first Complaints Policy to deal with the very small number of technicians who are not performing their work to the appropriate levels. We are currently working to strengthen the program with the support of not only the Ontario Fire Marshal but also other Jurisdictions across the country. It is our hope that this may serve as a deterrent to prevent further incidents like this in Toronto from happening elsewhere. Our increased complaints policy, along with our new Technician Training Program, are two of the main reasons we are seeing increased acceptance of our program across Canada. These items only serve to strengthen the quality and validity of the Education you all worked hard to get and to maintain and should serve to provide increased opportunities for you going forward.
Earlier this year the CFAA began to identify a number of areas of the Fire Code that could be strengthened to better assist the industry with ensuring properly trained and registered people were doing all inspections as required by the applicable standards. We also listened to the feedback from Technicians, Member Companies as well as the AHJs and as such had made a number of proposals to the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office for review. We shared these proposals with the Auditor General and they have been included as recommendations in the report produced and endorsed unanimously by Toronto City Council. We will continue to work with the City as well as our partners at the Ontario Fire Marshalls Office to review and adjust the programs to strengthen the oversight as well as providing corrective educational opportunities.
Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this item please do not hesitate to reach out to me to discuss at any time either by email or phone and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can. We will continue to work with our partners to strengthen the Industry and ensure our program is recognized as the preferred Fire Alarm Training program across Canada to ensure that our Members and Technicians doing good work are recognized as professionals.
Peter Hallinan
Executive Director
Canadian Fire Alarm Association