Victory: Government must step up fire safety in airports

PSAC-Quebec and the Syndicat des pompiers d’Aéroports de Montréal (SPADM-PSAC) applaud the House of Commons’ adoption of a motion urging the Government of Canada to strengthen regulations around fire safety in airports.

In recent years, firefighters at Montreal airports have repeatedly sounded the alarm about the dearth of on-duty personnel for initial aircraft rescues. 

“It’s as if residential firefighters were instructed to hose the burning house but prohibited from helping occupants evacuate,” said SPADM president Philippe Gagnon. “ADM is currently required to have only enough firefighters to operate the Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) vehicles.”

The firefighters’ union has contacted MPs many times, trying to convince the government to adopt international standards, which are much stricter. 

“Our members have a job that’s dangerous and requires specialized skills. Adopting this motion will really help make things safer not just for them but also for passengers and residents near major Canadian airports,” explained PSAC-Quebec Executive Vice-President Yvon Barrière.

Motion M-96 pinpoints fire safety shortfalls in the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) and urges the Canadian government to bring regulatory requirements in line with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, which specify that rescue is a required function of airport firefighters.

“I think it’s time we listened to firefighters. The regulatory amendments they’re calling for are simple and, above all, essential. It’s high time we took action to improve everyone’s safety,” said Bloc Québécois MP Louise Chabot during the debate.

Note that ICAO, Airports Council International, the International Air Transport Association and several other organizations are headquartered in Montreal, the world capital of civil aviation. Canada, and Montreal in particular, should therefore lead the way in aviation security. An airport’s fire service directly reflects how much that airport prioritizes safety.