Volunteer firefighting is not a crime

The firefighters’ union in Ontario is taking legal action to prevent their members from volunteering as firefighters in the towns where they live.

If the union is successful, it will negatively affect Deep River and may other small towns that rely on volunteers. CNL’s professional firefighters would be unable to volunteer in the communities around.

AMO reported in August: “Five new firefighters charged by their union for volunteering in their hometown.  Each has been convicted by an IAFF jury, fined and is awaiting an IAFF appeal process before they can go to the Ontario Labour Relations Board.”

Firefighters accused of volunteering are raising funds for their legal defence. I donated. Will you?

What the union is trying to do violates personal freedom. This would like be lawyers telling other lawyers they can’t donate their time to take on cases they want to support. Or accountants telling other accountants they can’t volunteer to support local charities and clubs keep their books. Or like professional athletes telling other athletes they can’t donate their time to coach local teams. Many of us have skills we’ve learned in our professional lives, and no one should try to keep us from using those skills to help our communities, on our own time.

Other resources on this topic:

  • Union turns up the heat on firefighters who volunteer on days off: Tom Hunse is fighting to keep his job as firefighter union bylaws in Ontario prohibit members from working at a volunteer force on their days off (Globe and Mail article, Sept. 17, 2014).
  • Response statements by AMO:
    • “These so-called “double hatters play an important role in keeping hundreds of Ontario municipalities safe. They provide fire protection services in small municipalities that do not require and could not possibly afford a fulltime, salaried fire department. They also play a critical role in larger, sprawling municipalities, like Hamilton and Ottawa, where volunteers are needed within their composite fire services… The union is using its power against good people, for political reasons. The union’s position effectively means that firefighters can do anything they want in their free time, except what they are trained to do” (AMO, Sept 10, 2014).
    • “A simple change to provincial law would prevent this type of union interference. To our knowledge, every Canadian province has such protection, except for Ontario and Newfoundland. It is time for Ontario to give our volunteer firefighters the same freedom and protection that other employees in Ontario enjoy, as well as those fire fighters everywhere else in the nation” (AMO, Sept 18, 2014)