Fire Department to the rescue at CSL vCOP meeting, Volunteers recognized for quick action

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The recent bi-monthly Patrol Meeting of Cote Saint-Luc’s volunteer Citizens on Patrol group was both educational and interesting. We welcomed guest speakers
Richard Liebman, Assistant Director of the Montreal Fire Department for Strategic and Operational Planning, as well as Louise Desrosiers, Division Chief, serving the territory including Cote Saint-Luc and surrounding areas.
Rick Liebman, Assistant Director, Montreal Fire Department (vCOP, Oct. 5, 2016)

Rick Liebman, Assistant Director, Montreal Fire Department (vCOP, Oct. 5, 2016)

Rick is no stranger to CSL. He is a longtime volunteer at the Emergency Measures Organization (which became EMS) going back to the 1980s and eventually rose to serve as Director of the CSL EMS first responder service.
Rick also became a firefighter in CSL and in 2002 moved to the Montreal Fire Department as part of the forced mega-merger. Impressively, he rose in the ranks to the position of Assistant Director.
Rick and Louise described how the FD responds to 128,000 calls each year. 80,000 of these calls are first response medical calls. The FD covers first response across the Island of Montreal with the single exception of Cote Saint-Luc where the highly skilled volunteer EMS is the authorized responder.
Louise Desrosiers, Division Chief, Montreal Fire Department (vCOP, Oct. 5, 2016)

Louise Desrosiers, Division Chief, Montreal Fire Department (vCOP, Oct. 5, 2016)

What’s more, those needing assistance during an evacuation may register online on the Montreal Fire Department website. The firefighters will be advised en route to a building of such residents requiring assistance.
Liebman reminded the vCOP members, “When you change the clocks change your batteries in your smoke detectors”. Of course, with the vCOP Smoke Detector Brigade as a major community initiative the volunteer needed little reminding in this area.
Liebman congratulated our city for our sprinkler bylaw. “CSL an early leader in fire sprinklers,” the Assistant Director said. As the councillor responsible for the adoption of this bylaw, along with Councillor Ruth Kovac and supported by the late Chief of Prevention of the CSL FD, Doug Lions, in the early 90s I took great pride in this compliment.
I would be remiss in not saluting the Montreal Fire Department, Service Incendie de Montreal, for recently translating much of its website into English to benefit a great number of residents of the Agglomeration of Montreal.
With the formal presentations done the supervisors distributed 10 years pins to several members.
vCOP members receive their 10 year recognition pins, October 2016

vCOP members receive their 10 year recognition pins, October 2016

The next Recruiting Evening was announced for October 25 at 7pm at City Hall. Any one interested in joining vCOP is encouraged to attend.
With some members getting on in years it was decided to launch an Associate Member classification for vCOP. Those who have given at least a few years of service would be welcomed into the Associate program where they would no longer be required to do at least two patrol shifts each month but could offer their time in other ways as well. In this way they could continue to be active, although less often, in ensuring that vCOP remains a strong visible deterrent to criminal activity in and around CSL.
Congratulations to the most recent Patroller of the Month: David Goldsmith.
CSL Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson, Bernie and Cokkie Band and vCOP Supervisor Mitchell Herf

CSL Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson, Bernie and Cokkie Band and vCOP Supervisor Mitchell Herf

Bernie and Cookie Band were recognized for putting together the statistics for the group for the last 10 years.
Volunteers Robert McDuff and Jeff Smith were recognized with a certificate of appreciation for their quick thinking and sharp eye in spotting a young woman in distress in Rabin Park. The vCOP duo kept her as alert as possible while awaiting the arrival of Public Security and EMS. Their intervention was most important in getting this woman to needed medical care and ensuring her personal safety.
The recognition certificate read:
We wish to recognize your professionalism and exemplary contributions to the vCOP program during the event last September. While on patrol, you and your partner came to the aid of a woman in need of medical assistance. Through your rapid intervention, you have made the City of Côte Saint-Luc proud and have highlighted the value that the vCOP program brings to the people of Côte Saint-Luc.
Your contributions radiate across the membership and help to portray a positive and professional image of our organization. With a core mission of helping our citizens and ensuring their safety, your actions contributed directly to the mission and for this reason, we want to demonstrate our appreciation.
McDuff and Smith represent the best that vCOP offers in delivering sharp observation and summoning the necessary emergency resources when most needed.
“Being part of helping the girl was the highlight  of my approximate 1000 hours of patrol.  I only wish I knew how she was doing,” said Smith. “Having watched people just walking by this young lady, it was our actions that helped her and it was one of the proudest moments of my life. How the city acknowledged us was more then I could have asked for.”
Congratulations to you both.
Jeff Smith and Robert McDuff are presented with a special recognition by Public Safety Chief Philip Chateauvert and Supervisor Mitchell Herf on Oct. 5, 2016

Jeff Smith and Robert McDuff are presented with a special recognition by Public Safety Chief Philip Chateauvert and Supervisor Mitchell Herf on Oct. 5, 2016

If you would like to help contribute like those dedicated volunteers mentioned above please join us on October 25.
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Tweet in English, too: Nashen to Montreal fire department

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The Suburban, Joel Goldenberg, January 14th, 2015

Côte St. Luc councillor Glenn Nashen is continuing his efforts to have government institutions dealing with safety and security provide content to the population in English as well as French.

Last year, Nashen called attention to the fact that the Montreal fire department’s website was in French only. Recently, much English content was added to the site.

Nashen and lawyer Harold Staviss have also been calling for English as well as French on safety messages on Quebec highways.

This past Friday, the Montreal fire department posted an advisory, in French only, cautioning the population to be careful if they are in the presence of sources of carbon monoxide “since this gas can be fatal.”

Nashen responded, in French, on the Twitter site that Article 22 of the Charter of the French Language allows for the use of another language in matters regarding health and public security.
“Please also tweet in English,” Nashen wrote.

A couple of hours later, the fire department responded with a tweet of the same safety message regarding carbon monoxide, in English.

Nashen copied his original request to The Suburban, as well as Staviss and Côte St. Luc councillor Ruth Kovac, who have been asking for linguistic respect from companies serving significant anglophone populations.

Staviss was pleased with Nashen’s request for English.

Kovac was happy to see the English tweet from the fire department. “Small victories all around,” she said. “A great way to start 2015.”

We checked out the fire department’s Twitter postings for the last several days. Most were in French only, except for some very general messages. “Your fire department wishes you a marvellous New Year,” says a Jan. 1 posting. “We’ll be keeping an eye on your safety at all times. Be aware.”
“The Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal encourages you to keep safety in mind during your festivities,” says a Dec. 22 posting.

The few other English postings in recent weeks highlight positive activities, some of  which emanate from English media coverage. There was also a Dec. 18 posting linking to Christmas tree decoration safety tips in English.

In contrast, there were more frequent English Twitter postings by the Montreal police department regarding safety and security, including one Friday alerting the population to the closing of Papineau south at Ontario East because of a fire, and advising motorists to access the Jacques Cartier Bridge via Ste. Catherine or René Lévesque.

Other postings included an alert that traffic was reopened downtown after a gas leak (Jan. 4), an advisory of inoperative traffic lights at Lacordaire and the Metropolitan (Dec. 22) and updates on a Nov. 29 downtown demonstration. However, some postings were in French only.

We also checked numerous Transports Quebec Twitter highway traffic alerts, all of which were in French. Some were short enough to be easily understood, such as references to accidents, but there were also less common French terms like “capotage.”

Painting fire trucks black endangers the public

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Montreal firefighters painted trucks black to protest government claw back on pension

Montreal firefighters painted trucks black to protest government claw back on pensions (Photo: La Presse)

Most of Montreal Agglomeration’s fire trucks turned black last week in a nasty battle between the provincial government and municipal employees, with cities and residents getting caught in the middle of this labour strife.

Police officers wearing pink camouflage pants and red caps is bad enough, causing the public to lose confidence and respect in them. But painting fire trucks black is plain stupid.

Montreal firefighters have painted 150 of the city's 200 trucks in black watercolour paint. (Photo: CBC News)

Montreal firefighters have painted 150 of the city’s 200 trucks in black watercolour paint. (Photo: CBC News)

Those firefighters who have participated in this irresponsible vandalism of public property are risking their own safety and that of the public. Lawful protest is permitted and appropriate. This display has crossed the line.

One resident contacted me this week:

Glenn, I saw something on Sunday which was absolutely frightening. I was stopped at the lights in front of the fire station on Cote St. Luc Road. The two fire trucks came out with lights on and they were painted dull black. I could not believe that an emergency vehicle would be dark as the day was at 3:30 pm. How DANGEROUS is this?

I was so shocked. I had to voice my concern.

A concerned citizen.

Anything that risks public safety should be deemed completely unacceptable by the Montreal Agglomeration and the Essential Services Council. Anything that shakes public confidence in their firefighters and police officers should be viewed as very poor public relations strategy by their own unions.

Montreal fire department website now has English content

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By Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban, October 29th, 2014

The Montreal fire department website (ville.montreal.qc.ca/sim/en) now has a significant amount of English content, The Suburban has discovered.

Earlier this year, Côte St. Luc Councillor Glenn Nashen complained that the new website lacked English.

“This is completely unacceptable and I’d even say goes contrary to their mission of providing public safety, thereby placing the residents of the Montreal agglomeration at risk,” Nashen said at the time.
Suzie Simard, spokesperson with the Montreal fire department, told us at the time that the English content was being worked on and would soon be on the site.

A few weeks ago, we saw a limited amount of English content on the site, but now there is much more content, in relation to prevention tips, what to do after a fire, awareness campaigns, a children’s section, information on first responders, specialized teams, maps of fire stations, information on vehicles and equipment, how to obtain a fire report, tours and related bylaws.
Nashen was pleased.

“This is a very good start at communicating with the English-speaking community, since the new department was created in 2002,” he wrote us in an e-mail. “There is still much work to be done in ensuring that other French-only informational, educational and promotional material and content gets translated as well. All forms, hand-outs and videos should be accessible by all Montreal agglomeration residents in English alongside French.”

And Nashen added that if the an impact is to be made in fire safety and prevention in cultural and linguistic communities, “this agglo department, as well as the police and emergency measures divisions, will have to work hard to communicate in several languages as is the norm in other major North American centres.

“The Montreal Agglo Fire Department has finally started to do what is crucial in their mission to prevent fires and safeguard residents. It must show the same efforts in social media and all other publicity to be sure their important messages are being understood and followed.”

 

Police and firefighters should wear their own pants

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Montreal police dressed in militia gear blocking city hall doors (Source: Sun Media)

Montreal police dressed in militia gear blocking city hall doors (Credit: Sun Media)

They had me on their side till they stepped out of their pants! These professionals put their lives on the line to serve and to protect. For this we should be grateful and we should reward them accordingly. This reward, in the matter of pensions, was negotiated by the government and I believed that it wasn’t right to go back and change the conditions of these contracts after the fact. If bad decisions were made and the pension payout was too generous, perhaps don’t claw back on current ones, change all future ones.  Alternatively, renegotiate conditions and salaries at the next round of negotiations. But retroactively change what was promised to these professionals who risk their lives for us? I’m not so sure. At least that’s how I began thinking when this latest labour crisis began.

But then came the stickers on cars and trucks, camouflage pants and armed protesters in front of city hall, sirens blaring, blocking traffic at city halls, both downtown and here in the suburbs, and that’s where I lost it, and them.

Montreal police car covered in union protest stickers

Montreal police car covered in union protest stickers (Credit: Montreal City Weblog)

I grew up being taught to have great respect for the uniform. The photos of my dad in his neatly pressed RCAF uniform, of the iconic RCMP officer in his crisp red serge, of movies about heroes in decorated uniform are burned into my psyche as an image of great respect, of enormous civic pride. I have passed this notion on to my children too, especially my son who reveres anyone in uniform, from the police officer and firefighter to the security agent and ambulance crews. How do I explain the “soldier” pants?

RCMP maintain

If I showed up wearing camouflage pants to work I’d be sent home to get changed. If I plastered stickers on a police car, fire truck, or city bus I would be arrested and charged with vandalizing public property. The police and other civil servants are equal to me, and you, under the law. We must follow the same rules of law and order. And when they break with the public trust they have lost the public trust.

I am deeply disturbed by images of Montreal police officers in militia gear. I am angry as hell when I see a million dollar Montreal fire truck whiz by that is plastered in stickers. Making a mockery of the uniform is diminishing the respect for their uniform, and their authority. Defacing their vehicles, which we, the taxpayers have paid for, is flipping us the middle finger to say they don’t care about the property we entrust them with. Demonstrating in front of city hall, in uniform, carrying weapons, is so very far from acceptable.

This is stepping over the fine line that ought never be crossed by those we hold to a higher standard. These actions make us lose focus on why they’re doing this in the first place. They’ve gone too far and are losing the PR battle and our respect.

More:

Montreal Gazette editorial (June 12, 2015)

CSL councillor frustrated with language-sparked info delays

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This Suburban article looks at my recent blog posting about bureaucratic delays in posting urgent public safety messages because of translation issues. It also mentions my ongoing complaint with the lack of English content on the Montreal Fire Department website and the very limited English tweeting by Hydro Quebec.

You should be outraged by the lack of respect offered to English-speaking Montrealers and Quebecers that actually place us at risk by not providing timely, or any, safety information. Call Montreal City Hall and the Montreal Fire Department to complain, as well as Hydro Quebec.

2014-07-09 Suburban, CSL councillor frustrated

Environment Canada tornado tweets stalled by language laws

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Ottawa developing software to tweet warnings in French and English simultaneously

Meteorologists in the United States use Twitter to push weather warnings to the public, but that doesn’t happen in Canada — official bilingualism has proved a barrier to weather warning tweets. (CBC News) More

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In my opinion: This is beyond ridiculous. Rather than alert some, if not most, of imminent danger right away, officialdom requires the government to notify no one, for a while.

In Quebec, so many government agencies and municipalities don’t bother with a single word in English in any social media or online messaging, not even for public safety purposes.

At least the Canadian government uses both languages. But don’t delay emergency alerts when one language is ready and the other takes a few more minutes. A little common sense, in either language, would go a long way to protect Canadians!

Once the new simultaneous software is up and running perhaps they could share it with the Quebec government and cities. Hydro Quebec can’t be bothered to show respect to its English language clients on Twitter and the Montreal Fire Department has been promising for 10 years to find a translator for its online communications. C’mon folks. Where’s the outrage? Your life may depend on it?

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