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MPPs support Rea and Walter Act

QUEEN'S PARK - The Rea and Walter Act, a bill that would give firefighters better information to fight fires, cleared a major hurdle on April 6 in the Ontario legislature, where MPPs unanimously supported it.

“For local firefighters and those across the province, this is a very encouraging result,” said Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece, who introduced the bill. “This is a critical issue affecting firefighter safety, and I’m grateful that all parties could get behind the solution we proposed.”

The bill is named in honour of two North Perth Fire Service members, Ken Rea and Ray Walter, who died battling a fire in March 2011. That tragedy happened when the roof of the Listowel Dollar Stop collapsed.

The legislation addresses one of the contributing factors in that tragedy: firefighters had no way to know the building used truss and lightweight construction.

The bill would require commercial and industrial buildings, as well as multi-family dwellings of three or more units, except townhouses, to display an emblem alerting fire crews to a building’s use of truss and lightweight construction.

“Truss and lightweight construction, when exposed to fire, can pose serious risks to responding firefighters. The best way to minimize their risk is to maximize their information,” Pettapiece explained during the debate.

Support for the bill from all parties was apparent.

“[This] is a good bill,” said Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha of the NDP.

“It’s straightforward for what it is trying to accomplish. Keeping our Ontario firefighters safe is something that we can all agree on.

“What the member for Perth-Wellington is proposing is just basic common sense.”

Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas noted that a delegation from Sudbury attended the memorial service in Listowel for Rea and Walter. She also urged the government to allow the bill to move forward through the third and final reading.

It is up to the Liberal government to allow the bill to go to the committee stage for possible amendments, and be reintroduced for a final vote in the legislature.

Liberal MPP Kathryn McGarry, also the Minister of Natural Resources, congratulated Pettapiece, saying she “could not be more supportive” of the bill.

For years, many firefighters have called on the province to mandate that truss- and lightweight-constructed buildings be identified.

In 2012, North Perth fire chief Ed Smith brought forward a resolution adopted at the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC).


April 21, 2017


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