Whitby Fire

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Who We Are and What We Do

Whitby Fire and Emergency Services (WFES) is committed to providing the highest level of service to the residents of the Town of Whitby. The Whitby Fire Department (WFES) is comprised of 146 employees working in 4 Divisions, from 5 fire halls.

Administration

Administration houses 8 personnel including the Fire Chief, 2 Deputy Chiefs, 1 Administration Manager, 3 Administration personnel, and 1 Asset Management Coordinator. Administration provides the strategic direction for the Department and coordinates and processes the information needed to keep the Department operating effectively and efficiently.

Risk Management and Education

Risk Management and Education is comprised of 7 personnel tasked with the protection of people and property as well as the preservation of the natural environment. Core responsibilities include Fire Prevention, Fire Safety and Public Education for residents and business owners within the Town of Whitby.

Fire Prevention Services

Whitby Fire and Emergency Services strives to protect the community form the risk of fire through pro-active Ontario Fire Code compliance inspections, addressing concerns brought forward by residents and business owners, fire and life safety building permit plans review, fire safety plans reviews and fire incident reports.

Fire Safety

Whitby Fire and Emergency Services provides the first line of defense against fire loss by providing proactive fire safety education to the residents and business owners of the Town of  Whitby as a means to prevent fires from happening and limit the negative effects should a fire occur.

Public Education
Whitby Fire and Emergency Services provides fire safety education to the residents of the Town of Whitby. Through the delivery of various Public Education Services and Public Education Programs we strive to reduce the number of fire incidents and minimize the loss of life and property.

Fire Training and Professional Development

Fire Training and Professional Development consists of 3 personnel who are responsible for keeping the Department on the leading edge of emergency-related knowledge and techniques, as well as ensuring that WFES personnel are equipped with the skills and abilities to provide the highest level of quality services to the public.

Fire Suppression

Fire Suppression is comprised of 128 personnel who respond to emergency calls on a 24/7 basis. When not responding to calls, they spend much of their time delivering public education programs, engaging in daily training activities, and maintaining equipment.

A group of Whitby Fire and Emergency Services (WFES) employees, representative of all areas of our Department, worked together to craft our Vision, Mission and Core Values statement for our Department. These statements and values help define who we are, what we value and where we are going.

Vision Statement

Creating a culture of community safety. 

Mission Statement

Through innovation, leadership and education, we are dedicated to protecting life and property.

Core Values

 
Compassion
Treating our community as if they were our family.
Integrity
Being honest and trustworthy and doing the right thing.
Excellence
Striving for excellence in every aspect of the service we provide to our community.

Message from Your WFES Management Team

The men and women of WFES are proud to be able to serve our great community. We are mindful of providing the best possible community service and are not satisfied with the status quo. We care about the people in our community and are committed to continually seeking improvement opportunities to serve them better.

Our emergency services include responding to more than 5,000 calls per year comprised of water rescues, motor vehicle extrications, medical emergencies, hazardous material incidents, fire suppression, industrial accidents and more. Our pro-active services include delivering relevant, modern, technical internal training, engaging the community in fire safety public education, inspecting properties to ensure they are safe and in compliance with the Ontario Fire Code and ensuring our Administration efforts are as efficient and effective as possible.

As the Management Team of WFES, we are excited about our future as a community-minded Service. We encourage people from the Whitby community to contact us with any feedback they have about our Service.

Dave Speed
Fire Chief

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Mike Matthews
Deputy Fire Chief

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Mariano Perini
Deputy Fire Chief

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Joni Bell
Administration Manager

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Our History as a Fire Department

The first organized fire protection for the Town of Whitby was a privately-operated company, established by Mr. Nathaniel Ray in 1851. In 1857, two years after Whitby was incorporated as a Town, a fire brigade­ consisting of 25 men and a hook and ladder company consisting of 20 men were formed under a by-law passed by Town Council.

Today, Whitby Fire and Emergency Services consists of 124 Suppression staff, 7 Fire Prevention and Public Education staff, 3 Training Officers, 4.5 Administration and Logistics staff, 2 Deputy Fire Chiefs, and 1 Fire Chief. The department operates from five halls with 1 aerial platform, 5 pumper fire trucks, 1 water tanker, and 1 rescue unit.

For more information, we invite you to read the complete History of the Whitby Fire Department.


Frequently Asked Questions

Carbon Monoxide

 

Why is carbon monoxide dangerous?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced by burning gasoline, wood, propane, charcoal or other fuel.Carbon monoxide poisoning happens when you breathe too much carbon monoxide. CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. Symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:

  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Ultimately death

The dangers of CO exposure depend on a number of variables, including the victim's health and activity level. Infants, pregnant women, and people with physical conditions that limit their body's ability to use oxygen (i.e. emphysema, asthma, heart disease) can be more severely affected by lower concentrations of CO than healthy adults would be. A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time.

What conditions create a carbon monoxide hazard?

Conditions that can create a CO hazard include:

  • Fuel-burning appliances, venting systems and chimneys that have not been serviced and maintained regularly by a qualified service technician.
  • A chimney blocked by a squirrel or bird’s nest, snow, ice or other debris.
  • Improper venting of a furnace or cracked furnace heat exchanger.
  • Exhaust fumes seeping into your home from a vehicle running in an attached garage.
  • Improper use of portable heaters.
  • Using fuel-burning appliances designed for outdoor use (barbecues, lanterns, chainsaws, lawnmowers, snow blowers) in an enclosed area such as a garage or workshop. 
Where do I buy a carbon monoxide alarm?
Carbon monoxide alarms can be purchased at most hardware stores in Canada. Look for a ULC or CSA listed product. Approved devices include battery operated units, electric units that can be plugged into a duplex receptacle and hard-wired units.
Where should I install a carbon monoxide alarm?
The mandatory location for installation is in a central location outside each sleeping area of the home. If you have sleeping areas in your basement you are required to have a CO) alarm on that level of your home. The units should not be blocked by furniture or window coverings, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one activates, they all activate.
How do I maintain my carbon monoxide alarm?
Your carbon monoxide alarm should be tested regularly to make sure it is operating properly. Keep the unit clean and free of dust dirt and other debris which could affect the sensor’s proper functioning. The owner’s manual will tell you how to test your alarm.

You should keep common household chemicals and cleaners away from your CO alarms. Low exposure over an extended period of time could damage the sensing device and cause it to malfunction.

What do I do if my carbon monoxide alarm activates?
If your carbon monoxide alarm activates, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call 911 from the fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrive. Keep all windows and doors shut so WFES Firefighters can take an accurate reading of the level of CO in your home.
When are carbon monoxide alarms required to be installed within an apartment building?

A working CO alarm should be installed in your apartment unit if your apartment meets any of the following criteria:

  • Your apartment unit is above, below or beside a service room with a fuel burning appliance
  • Your apartment unit is above, below and beside the garage in your building

If your apartment unit has an installed CO alarm, never disable it. Disabling the alarm includes: taking the alarm off the ceiling or wall, unplugging it from an electrical outlet and/or removing the battery.

Smoke Alarms


Where do I buy a smoke alarm?
Most department or hardware stores carry a variety of smoke alarms. We recommend that electrical smoke alarms (hard wired) and battery operated smoke alarms be U.L.C. listed. Products that have been evaluated by Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (U.L.C.), and found to meet their requirements carry the ULC mark. 
Which type of smoke alarm should I purchase?
There are two types of alarms – ionization and photoelectric. They operate on different principles and therefore may respond differently to various conditions. Some advantages to each type are set out below:

Ionization
  • Fastest type to respond to flaming fires
  • Lowest cost and most commonly sold
  • Some models have a hush or temporary silence feature that allows silencing without removing the battery
  • Some models are available with a long life battery

Photoelectric

  • Fastest type to respond to slow smouldering fires and white or grey smoke
  • Less prone to nuisance alarms from cooking
  • Photoelectric smoke alarms may respond slightly faster to smouldering fires, while ionization alarms respond slightly faster to flaming fires.

Since you cannot predict the type of fire that will occur, it is difficult to recommend which is best. Both alarms will detect all types of fires that commonly occur in the home. Installing both types of smoke alarms in your home can enhance fire safety.

Where should I install my smoke alarm?
Effective March 1, 2006, it is the law for all Ontario homes to have a working smoke alarm on every storey and outside all sleeping areas.

Smoke alarms should be installed between each sleeping area and the remainder of the home/apartment or where a sleeping area is served by a hallway, install the alarm in the hall. Always install the smoke alarm on or near the ceiling in accordance with the manufacturer's installation instructions. 

How do I maintain my smoke alarm?
Install a new battery in your smoke alarm at least once a year. If the low battery warning beeps, replace the battery immediately. We change our clocks each spring and fall, which are good times to change your smoke alarm batteries, too. Never remove the battery for use in other devices. Dust and spider webs can clog a smoke alarm, so carefully vacuum the unit using the soft bristle brush.
What do I do if my smoke alarm activates?

If your smoke alarm is in full alarm mode, alert others and evacuate to your family meeting place outside of your home. Do not re-enter your home and call 911 from your safe location.

If the alarm is chirping, first check the area to try to detect the smell of smoke. If you are certain that no emergency exists, assess the number of chirps and the interval between chirps. Compare your findings to the owner’s manual. For example, an alarm may chirp once every minute to indicate the battery is in need of replacement, or once every 30 seconds for end of life notification. Similarly, some alarms chirp once every 30-40 seconds for one indication, and chirp twice for another. If you have any doubts, replace the battery. If the alarm continues to chirp, despite its age, replace it. You can contact Whitby Fire and Emergency Service for advice by calling 905-668-3312 and asking to speak with a Fire Prevention Officer. 

Can I be fined or charged if I do not have smoke alarms in my home?
Effective March 1, 2006, it is the law for all Ontario homes to have a working smoke alarm on every level and outside all sleeping areas. If your home does not meet this criteria and a Whitby Fire Prevention Officer visits your home you could be fined and/or charged under the Ontario Fire Code.
Why does using my toaster or steam from my shower set off my smoke alarm?

Sometimes there is smoke generated from the toaster when it’s in use, and if that smoke gets into the smoke alarm the alarm will go off. As well the water vapor from the shower mimics the effect of smoke, and causes the alarm to go off.

Smoke alarms are designed to be very sensitive in order to detect smoke. As annoying as an overly sensitive smoke alarm may be, it's still a key part of your home’s security to give you an early warning of any fire conditions to allow you time to escape.

If your smoke alarm continuously goes off when you cook, do not take the alarm down, but replace it with a unit that has a hush feature. You can also move it further away from the kitchen, but keep in mind that a smoke alarm must be placed outside of all sleeping areas.

Why do I need to replace the smoke alarms in my house after 10 years?
After 10 years, the smoke alarm has tested the air in your home 3.5 million times. The components inside the alarm can wear out and may not detect a fire as quickly. Most manufacturers recommend replacing them, including hard wired (electrical) alarms, after ten years to ensure the best level of protection in your home.
What is the proper way for me to dispose of my old smoke alarms?
Smoke alarms from households, containing not more than 185 kilobequerels (kBq) or 5 microcurries (uCi) of americium 241, are classified as domestic waste. A typical smoke alarm contains approximately 33.3 kBq (0.9 uCi) of americium 241. Homeowners should dispose of smoke alarms that are at the end of their useful life with their regular waste. This is in line with the provisions of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices Regulations and the Ministry of the Environment’s Regulation 347 General – Waste Management.

If household smoke alarms are collected in larger amounts or contain radium (this will be indicated on the smoke alarm) contact the CNSC at 1-800-668-5284 to determine the proper disposal procedure. 

Is it okay to replace existing hardwired smoke alarms or electrically interconnected smoke alarms with battery powered smoke alarms?
No. When smoke alarms are being replaced, the installation must not reduce the level of detection required by the Building Code in effect at the time of construction of the dwelling unit, or by municipal by-laws in effect before the Fire Code adopted this requirement. This requirement is contained in Sentence 6.3.3.5.(1) of the Fire Code. In other words, existing permanently wired individual smoke alarms or electrically interconnected smoke alarm installations must be maintained to provide the same level of protection as originally required. Any replacement smoke alarms must be of a type comparable to the original (or better).

Calling 911


When do I call 911?
Dial 911 for emergencies only. For all fire related non-emergencies call Whitby Fire and Emergency Services at 905-668-3312.
What information should I be ready to provide when calling 911?

In the event of an emergency, be ready with the following information:

  • Description of the emergency: Is it a fire? Is someone hurt or ill? Do you need police assistance?

If your call is for a fire you will be transferred to the fire department. You will hear the phone ring again while the transfer is taking place. The fire dispatcher will answer, “Fire Department”. Be sure to include the following:

  • Address
  • Building name
  • Apartment number.
  • What is burning? Is the building occupied or is everyone out safely?

Always make sure that you are safe before calling 911 and remember to remain calm, speak slowly and clearly and give direct answers to the questions that are asked.

What do I do if I dialed 911 by mistake?
Do not hang up. Instead, stay on the line and inform the 911 operator that you dialed 911 by mistake. If you hangup, a 911 operator will verify the address from which the call originated and may in fact send a fire truck along with police and ambulance to that address to determine if a problem exists. 

Appliances


Are electric stoves safer than natural gas stoves?
Both stoves are safe to use and modern gas stoves have built in safety mechanisms that can prevent natural gas build up in the home. However, the greatest stove-related danger applies to both gas and electric stoves, from fires starting when people leave cooking unattended. ​​
Can I plug an appliance into an extension card?
Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis. Make sure you unplug and safely store them after every use. Never use a cord that feels hot or is damaged in any way. Touching even a single exposed strand can give you an electric shock or burn. Also, make sure extension cords are properly rated for their intended use, indoor or outdoor, and meet or exceed the power needs of the tool being used.​
  • Never remove an extension cord's grounding pin in order to fit it into a two-prong outlet.
  • Avoid powering multiple appliances with one cord.
  • Never use indoor extension cords outdoors.
  • Don't plug multiple cords together.
  • Don't run extension cords under rugs or furniture.
  • Never tape extension cords to floors or attach them to surfaces with staples or nails.

Fire Safety in Apartments

 What is a door closer and why do I need one on my apartment door?
Door closing hardware is attached to a door and allows the door to automatically close and latch after it has been opened. Other terms for this hardware include self-closing hardware, self-closer, self-closing device, closer, and door closer. If there is a fire in an apartment, the door closer will automatically shut the door after the occupant leaves. This will limit the spread of smoke and fire into the corridor and other parts of the building.

The Ontario Fire Code requires self-closing devices on residential suite doors in apartment buildings that are more than six storeys in building height, in apartment buildings that are not greater than six storeys in building height (where the suite doors open onto corridors that have only one direction of exit travel or where the corridor is contiguous with the exit stair), in some lodging, rooming and boarding house configurations, and in some two-unit residential occupancies.

Both the Ontario Building Code and the Fire Code identify many other locations in buildings where self-closing devices are needed, such as on exit stair doors, laundry room doors, and garbage room doors. Generally, doors in corridors require this hardware, with some exceptions.

Are propane or electric barbecues allowed on apartment balconies? 

There is no provision in the Fire Code to prohibit propane or electric barbecues on balconies. The Propane Handling Act does not permit propane tanks larger than five pounds inside a building. Many buildings have a “no barbecue” rule in their leases or condominium rules and this would be administered under the Landlord-Tenant Act.

Outdoor Burning

Can I have a fire in my backyard? 

No. Open air burning is not allowed in the Town of Whitby. 

Alternatively, there are several ULC/CSA approved propane or natural gas appliances that can be used. These appliance have the look and feel of a natural fire and can be safely extinguished by closing a valve.

Safely Extinguishing a Fire


What size of fire extinguisher should I have for my home?
A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives; but portable extinguishers have limitations. Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the #1 priority for residents is to get out safely.​​

Attempting to put a fire out without any formal training may put you in danger. However, if you have read the instructions that come with the fire extinguisher and become familiar with its parts and operation before a fire breaks out use a five-pound ABC type extinguisher which should be kept in a location that is easily accessible.

Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape. Every household should have a home fire escape plan and working smoke alarms.​

Can I use water or baking soda to put out a fire on my stove? 
 You never want to put water on a cooking fire because it can interact with the grease of the food and cause a much larger fire. Baking soda or other products, such as salt, do not work effectively because you need a very large amount. If you have a fire on your stove you should leave the home immediately and call 9-1-1 from outside.​
Can I put out a fire in my home using a garden hose or a bucket of water?
Never attempt to put out a fire in your home, especially if it is large. There have been cases in Whitby where residents have attempted to put fires out and have been severely injured. Also, not calling 9-1-1 right away will delay the fire crews response, which then allows the fire to grow much larger and more dangerous. A fire doubles in size every 30 seconds. ​ 

Key Reports

 Master Fire Plan

 Whitby Fire and Emergency Services - Master Fire Plan 2016-2025

 Strategic Plan

 Whitby Fire and Emergency Services - Strategic Plan 2017-2022

 Annual Reports

 By-Laws


For current employment opportunities with the Town of Whitby, including becoming a fire fighter, fire prevention officer or administrative personnel with Whitby Fire and Emergency Services, please click here.