FIR001 - Introduction to the Fire Service

Outline info
Last revision date 2018-07-20 13:31:27.795
Last review date 2018-07-20 13:31:39.699

Subject Title
Introduction to the Fire Service

Subject Description
This subject provides an overview of the Ontario Fire Service, the professionalization process for firefighters in Ontario, fire and emergency services organizations, and the roles and responsibilities of employees. In particular, it focuses on the knowledge, attitudes and skills required of a professional firefighter. In addition, legislation and firefighter safety practices are emphasized. This subject is divided into three sections: A) Professionalization Process and the Role of the Firefighter in Ontario, B) Fire/Emergency Services Organization, and C) Fire Behaviour and the Chemistry of Combustion.

Credit Status
One credit in the Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training Ontario College Certificate

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:

A. Professionalization Process and the Role of the Firefighter in Ontario

1. describe the historical development of the Ontario Fire Service to present day status
2. discuss the paradigm of Progress Report, standards for all roles in the fire service, Professional Standards Setting Body, Certification, Endorsement Review Board and the role of the Office of the Fire Marshal Trainer/Facilitator
3. describe current trends, emerging issues, new directions, and evolving roles in the fire service and emergency services
4. describe the ethical, legal and safety requirements of today's professional firefighter
5. describe the provincial and municipal legislation pertaining to the establishment, governance and operation of municipal fire departments
6. describe the responsibilities and requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act as well as Health and Safety Guidelines for Ontario's fire service as they apply to fire departments
7. discuss how the Fire Protection and Prevention Act (FPPA) impacts on the province, the Office of the Fire Marshal and the responsibilities of municipalities
8. discuss how other provincial legislation such as the Highway Traffic Act and municipal by-laws affect the fire/emergency services department and firefighters
9. describe the relationship between the fire department and municipal councils and the relationship with the Office of the Fire Marshal
10. describe the role of the Ministry of the Solicitor General, Office of the Fire Marshal and the Ontario Fire College
11. identify and describe the roles of unions and professional associations in the fire service
12. describe the provincial ministries and municipal services that interact with fire departments
13. describe the composition of the fire service across the province of Ontario
14. identify the roles and responsibilities associated with recruits through to first class firefighters
15. identify components of employee selection and general hiring practices including best practices for a successful interview
16. describe the fitness requirements for firefighters and an individualized health fitness maintenance program
17. describe strategies and techniques to gain employment as a full-time firefighter
18. describe the specific stress factors experienced by the firefighter
19. describe the role of the Health and Safety Guidelines for Ontario's fire service when functioning in the role of the first responder at emergency situations
20. begin the initial steps in the professionalization process as a new recruit in order to meet the ethical, legal, and safety requirements inherent in professional practice
21. describe methods of maintaining professional currency
22. describe the Ontario Fire Service Education Plan and Career Path

B. Fire/Emergency Services Organization

1. describe the goals, responsibilities and accountability of municipalities in providing fire and life safety to their communities
2. describe the organizational structure of a full-time, composite and volunteer department
3. identify the organizational structure and functional divisions in a fire/emergency services department
4. identify the role of the Chief Officer and management in the fire department
5. describe the roles and responsibilities and accountabilities of various fire department personnel
6. identify the roles and responsibilities associated with recruit through to first class position of firefighter
7. describe the various ways citizen's report a fire or other emergency requiring a tiered response
8. describe staff, facilities, operations and equipment located in a fire service dispatch/communication centre
9. describe integrated fire department communications systems

C. Fire Behaviour and Chemistry of Combustion

1. define fire
2. explain the elements of the fire triangle and the fire tetrahedron and their relationship to one another - fuel - oxygen - heat - molecular chain reaction
3. describe the five sources of heat energy
4. describe the effects of heat on solid, liquid and gaseous fuels
5. define these terms relating to fire:
A. flash point
B. fire point
C. ignition temperature
6. define and describe the stages of fire
7. define the four methods of heat transfer
8. describe the nature of the products of combustion produced during a fire
9. describe the factors that influence the production of toxic gases
10. identify the most common combustion gases produced during a fire and describe their source and effect on fire
11. describe the physical properties of each of the common combustion gases
12. define the following terms relating to fire:
A. backdraft
B. flashover
C. rollover
D. pyrolsis
13. identify the four classes of fire and give two examples of fuels in each class
14. describe the burning characteristics of the four classes of fire
15. describe common fire service extinguishing agents
16. describe the extinguishing agents appropriate to each class of fire along with the advantages/disadvantages of each
17. describe the ways different types of building construction affect fire behaviour
18. identify structural features which influence fire spread and safety
19. describe the influence of the following factors on total fire safety:
A. location of building
B. occupancy
C. exterior exposure
D. potential for mechanical damage to fire protection material

Specific Skill Learning Outcomes

A. Professionalization Process and the Role of the Firefighter in Ontario
- use critical thinking skills to analyze an emergency situation case scenario
- research career options within the fire service and develop a personal education plan and career path for the next ten years

Cheating and Plagiarism
Each student should be aware of the College's policy regarding Cheating and Plagiarism. Seneca's Academic Policy will be strictly enforced.

To support academic honesty at Seneca College, all work submitted by students may be reviewed for authenticity and originality, utilizing software tools and third party services. Please visit the Academic Honesty site on for further information regarding cheating and plagiarism policies and procedures.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Disabilities Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.


Topic Outline
1. Professionalization Process and the Role of the Firefighter in Ontario 

Content in this section focuses on the professionalization process and the role of the firefighter.  Included is a provincial overview of the fire service as it has evolved historically to the present day.  Legislation, ethical and legal requirements of today's professional firefighter are highlighted.  The knowledge, attitudes and skills required by a professional firefighter are covered.  Hiring criteria, career planning and professional development are examined.  The role and responsibilities of the Office of the Fire Marshal, the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, other associations and unions are also highlighted. 

2. Fire/Emergency Services Organization 

This section provides an overview of the goals, responsibilities and accountabilities of municipalities and their fire/emergency services department in providing fire and life safety to their communities.  The fire department, its organizational structure and functional divisions are covered.  Factors impacting evolution of the changes in the mandate and role of the departments and their members are incorporated. 

3. Fire Behaviour and Chemistry of Combustion 

This section defines fire and its behaviour from ignition to extinguishment as a result of lack of fuel or oxygen.  Fire is studied from both a physical and chemical standpoint.  Stages and classes of fire and recognizable events are studied as well as methods of heat/fire spread and the methods used to control and extinguish fire. 

Mode of Instruction
Lectures, demonstrations

Prescribed Texts
Required Text:

Essentials of Fire Fighting & Department Operations 6th edition (expanded with HM awareness and ops and an EMR chapter)
By Brady, IFSTA; ISBN#9780879395216

Essentials of Firefighting WKBK, ISBN# 9780133405163

Reference Material
Provided in Class:

Occupational Health and Safety Act 
OAFC/OFM Career Path 
Copy of an Establishing and Regulating By- law (Municipal) 
Highway Traffic Act 
Municipal Act 
Fire Protection and Prevention Act 

Copy of a municipal Fire Route By-law 

Required Supplies

Promotion Policy

Grading Policy
A+ 90%  to  100%
A 80%  to  89%
B+ 75%  to  79%
B 70%  to  74%
C+ 65%  to  69%
C 60%  to  64%
D+ 55%  to  59%
D 50%  to  54%
F 0%    to  49% (Not a Pass)
EXC Excellent
SAT Satisfactory
UNSAT Unsatisfactory

For further information, see a copy of the Academic Policy, available online ( or at Seneca's Registrar's Offices.

Modes of Evaluation

Grading is based on the following marking scheme:

Mid-Term Test 25%
Term Work 45%
Comprehensive Final Examination 30%

Pass mark for subject is 70% overall
80% attendance is required by the Office of the Fire Marshal to receive a passing grade for this subject

Approved by: Sandra Noble