Engineering A Fire Safe World
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chapter History

The Road to SFPE Chapter Status

The Southern Ontario Chapter began as an idea in the minds of several men involved in fire protection engineering. On February 25, 1965, an application to the national organization was made for chapter status. Before chapter status could be granted, several problems faced the fledging organization. Several of the promoters of the new chapter were not members of the SFPE. Also, the chapter had some interested potential members who were involved in fire protection, but were not qualified to be members of the SFPE. At this time, there was a requirement for NFPA membership for all SFPE members. Another problem faced by the chapter was recognition of the technical society by the APEO.

It is worthwhile to note that chapter members must be SFPE members. Those that did not qualify for membership status at the birth of our chapter, went on to form the Canadian Fire Safety Association (CFSA).

The Pro Tem Executive Committee for the proposed Southern Ontario Chapter included Bob Beach, Bob Allen, Leslie Estey, Gord Anderson, John Oldaker, F. Gowland and Sam Majury. The Pro Tem team had a list of sixteen proposed members. Correspondence went between the proposed chapter and the nation organization for several months. The national executive voted chapter status for the Southern Ontario Chapter on November 14, 1965 . On December 1st of the same year, an inaugural meeting of the Southern Ontario Chapter was held.

The Early Years (1965 – 1980)

Since its birth, the chapter has promoted the art and science of fire protection engineering through seminars, meetings and other forms.

In its early years, the Southern Ontario Chapter was a strong promoter of automatic sprinkler protection in buildings, especially buildings with nonambulatory residents.

The Chapter regularly hosted luncheon or dinner meetings with guest speakers for its members. The Chapter held and still does today, four to six of these meetings a year. In 1974, the Constitution of the Chapter was adopted by the members. The Constitution is the first by-law of our Chapter.

In November of 1978, the Chapter had a record setting attendance of eighty people at a lunch meeting. The guest speaker discussed the Ford Parts Depot fire in Munich, West Germany.

APEO Grants Specialist Designation for Fire Protection Engineers

In 1974, the Chapter made application to the APEO for a specialist designation for fire protection engineers.

In May of 1981, the APEO adopted the specialist designation of Fire Protection Engineer. It had been seven years since the initial application had been made.

The Middle Years (1981 – 1996)

Toronto hosted the November 1981 NFPA annual meeting. The Southern Ontario Chapter organized a gala dinner at the top of the CN Tower. The dinner was attended by three hundred fifty conference delegates and guests. The special protection measures in the CN Tower was the topic of the after dinner speech.

The Southern Ontario Chapter was granted standing to the Inquiry into Fire Safety in High-rise Buildings. In 1982, the Chapter prepared a submission to the inquiry and gave a verbal presentation to the commission.

A new attendance record for lunch meetings was set in 1983 when one hundred people attended the lunch which featured guest speaker, Ken Moses from Protection Mutual Insurance Company. Ken discussed the K-Mart fire loss which had an estimated loss of 100 million dollars in the 1982 fire.

In November 1983, the Southern Ontario Chapter hosted a one-day seminar entitled, "Cost Effective Fire Protection for the Architect and Engineer". There were one hundred attendees at the seminar. The guest speakers at the seminar decided to give a thousand dollar contribution to the new burn centre at Wellesley Hospital in lieu of an honorarium. The Chapter hosted another seminar in February of 1986. This seminar dealt with concepts and realities in the fire protection field.

In May 1990, the Chapter revised and adopted our Constitution By-law No. 1

The 25th Anniversary

In November 1990, a special dinner was held to celebrate the silver anniversary of our Chapter. The evening program included a reception, a video entitled, "Paradigms of Progress", speeches by past presidents of the Chapter, plus a fabulous dinner.

The evening was well attended by many members and their guests, including several past presidents, and special guest Bernard A. Moyle, Ontario Fire Marshal.

The video "Paradigms of Progress" gave illustrations of how paradigms blocked people from realizing the potentials of new ideas and inventions. The video continued showing how we must recognize our own paradigms and be prepared to change them in order to grow.

All of the past presidents in attendance at the dinner took the podium to say a few words. In general, the comments related to their respective years as president and the friendships that they had developed through the Chapter. Many old jokes and laughs were retold to the audience.

Leber/Rubes Inc. was presented with a plaque for their involvement in the SFPE's "Corporate 100" program.

The final event of the evening was the re-chartering of the Chapter. Walter Miller, President, Society of Fire Protection Engineers, officially re-chartered the Southern Ontario Chapter.

The Chapter was grateful for the support of the following companies in helping to make the evening a success.

  • Cerberus Pyrotronics
  • Leber/Rubes Inc.
  • Professional Loss Control Ltd.
  • Scor Reinsurance Company of Canada
  • Viking Fire Protection Ltd.

On May 1991, the Southern Ontario Chapter published a 44 page commemorative booklet of the significant events and achievements of the past 25 years. The booklet included many congratulatory letters, a listing of the Board of Directors during the 25th Anniversary, a listing of past presidents, the Southern Ontario Chapter history, details of the25th Anniversary dinner, the 1990/91 Membership, the Constitution, and allotted space for supporters and advertisers.

The 1992-1993 program saw a diversity of topics and locations for our functions, which included tours of the new Sick Children's Hospital and Darlington Nuclear Generating Station with ORIMS.

The 1993/1994 program year featured a particularly ambitious agenda of topics and speakers for our luncheon meetings. Two speakers were imported from the United States: one from the NFPA Research Foundation to talk about fire test results involving flammable and combustible liquids and the second from NFPA Fire Investigations to give us the inside story on the World Trade Center bombing in New York City. Three other luncheon meetings that year featured two speakers as well. Also, in October 1993, Tom Klem, NFPA Director of Fire Investigations discussed the lessons learned from the World Trade Centre Bombing.

The chapter has consistently provided monthly luncheon meetings with technical subjects and speakers throughout the 1990s. The program year typically ran from September to May with meetings scheduled for the second or third Tuesday of each month. The May luncheon meeting also doubled as the Annual Business Meeting, as required by our chapter constitution.

The NFPA Fall Conference was held in Toronto in November 1994. The Southern Ontario Chapter hosted a reception at Ontario Place for local chapter members and visiting SFPE and NFPA members from across North America. About 200 members and guests attended the cocktail reception, followed by a showing of the IMAX film Fires of Kuwait at the Cinesphere. The chapter, SFPE and ASHRAE offered the Design and Smoke Management Systems course in Toronto prior to the NFPA fall session.

In the fall of 1995, the Major Industrial Accidents Council of Canada (MIACC) presented a major three-day conference in Toronto on industrial accidents in cooperation with eleven other organizations, one of them being the Southern Ontario Chapter of the SFPE. It was called PPR 95: Prevention, Preparedness & Response to Major Industrial Accidents Involving Hazardous Substances. The chapter and the Canadian Fire Safety Association (CFSA) joined forces to provide relevant topics and speakers for one entire day of technical sessions. Eight technical sessions were arranged and presented, ranging from BLEVEs to the environmental impact of fire fighting. Over 200 people attended this event.

On the international front, Peter Lund, SFPE International's Executive Director, retired on February 26, 1997 after 25 years as the only executive director ever of SFPE. The chapter joined the many other chapters of SFPE in wishing Peter a happy retirement and also welcomed Kathleen Almand as our new executive director of SFPE in May 1997.

The Recent Years (1997 – 2017)

The Newsletter

The first edition of the Chapter newsletter was released in September, 1983. The newsletter is sent to all Chapter members to keep them informed on Chapter events and current technical issues. Members are invited to submit technical papers to the newsletter.

In September 1993, the dormant chapter newsletter was reinvented by Don Keefe with the first edition of The Ignition Source. This one-page, two-sided newsletter went on to be published by Don for six years, averaging three or four issues per year. It provided chapter members with brief summaries of recent luncheon meetings, chapter news and upcoming events. His last edition of The Ignition Source was in April 1999.

Donations

The chapter executive was always on the lookout to support organizations that promoted the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge in the field of fire protection engineering.

In fall of 1993, the chapter donated $250 to the Seneca College fire protection program and $500 to the University of Toronto, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering.

In 1995, the chapter donated $1,000 to ULC to help sponsor their review of existing test data to validate their Standard on Design of Structures for Fire Resistance. Another big donation was made in May 1996 when the chapter donated $3,500 towards the alarms laboratory for the School of Fire Protection Technology at Seneca College in Toronto.

In 1996, the chapter also contributed $500 towards the SFPE's Educational and Scientific Foundation In March 1997, the chapter began a new phase in its philanthropic tradition by establishing an annual, self-perpetuating bursary of $300 for a student in Seneca College's fire protection technology program. Taking advantage of a provincial government program for matching private sector donations, the chapter donated $1000 in 1997 followed by another $1,000 in 1998 and 1999 to establish the necessary trust fund to generate the bursary. This bursary commitment was increased by $500 for each of 2000 and 2001.

The second new development in 1998 was the first annual Southern Ontario Chapter Golf Day held in September 1998 at Glen Eagle Golf Club in Bolton. A charity event, the chapter managed to raise $2,500 that was donated to the Burn Unit at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children. The golfing bug seems to have taken hold as the second annual Charity Golf Day was held in August 1999 at Cardinal Golf Club in Newmarket. Another $2,000 was raised and donated to the Burn Unit. By 2005, the Chapter had already held seven (7) Charity Golf Tournaments and had raised over $ 15,000 for the Toronto Sick Children's Burn Unit and Children's Wish Foundation. The Chapter is currently planning it's eighth Annual Charity Golf Tournament.

The Chapter has also assisted the Seneca College Fire Protection Engineering Program financially through a time of significant government cost-cutting. The Chapter is currently partnering with Seneca College in a fundraising event to purchase equipment for some of the Fire Protection Laboratories.

Participation in Public and SFPE Policy

Ontario Fire Code

The chapter returned to participating in public policy in 1995 when it campaigned to be included on the task group that developed draft regulations to incorporate Part 4 on Flammable and Combustible Liquids into the Ontario Fire Code. The Southern Ontario Chapter was represented on the committee over the course of 1995-1996 by chapter Past President George Fawcett, the man responsible for getting the chapter included in the first place. To top it all off, George did a presentation to chapter members on the draft regulations at the April 1996 luncheon meeting.

In 1997, the chapter was then invited by the Fire Marshal's Office to participate on a similar task group on the planned revisions of Part 3 on Indoor and Outdoor Storage and Part 5 on Hazardous Processes and Operations of the Ontario Fire Code. This task group was formed as a result of one of 12 recommendations in a report submitted by the Fire Marshal to the Solicitor General of Ontario in the wake of the Plastimet fire in Hamilton in July 1997. The chapter was represented on this committee over the course of 1997-1998 by Don Keefe, then chapter Past President.

ULC Standards

In 1995, George Fawcett began representing the SFPE Southern Ontario Chapter on UL Canada's Fire Alarm System standards. He participates on the main S500 Committee and it's 5 Subcommittees, which include the Installation, Verification, and Testing and Inspection Standards for Fire Alarm Systems.

SFPE International

The year 1998 saw two new developments in our chapter. The first was the participation on a SFPE International committee by a chapter member when Chapter President Anthony Van Odyk was asked to participate on the SFPE Membership Committee. This invitation stemmed from Anthony attending and participating in the SFPE Annual Meeting in 1998 on behalf of the chapter. Anthony continues to participate on the membership committee to the present day.

The Web

The Southern Ontario Chapter paved its way onto the information superhighway in 1999 by creating our own Internet web site. The chapter web page is hosted on the Seneca College server and can be found at http://www.senecac.on.ca/fire/sfpe.

Recently, the Executive Committee made the decision to undertake a major upgrade to the Web Site. Our new Web Site can be found at http://www.sfpesoc.com.

The 35th Anniversary

In November 2000, a special dinner was held at the Boulevard Club to celebrate the 35th anniversary of our Chapter. The evening program included a reception, plus a fabulous dinner.

The evening was well attended by many members and their guests, including several past presidents, however our special guest and keynote speaker, Jack Woycheese, President of SFPE International, stranded in Chicago due to the weather.

All of the past presidents in attendance (10) at the dinner took the podium to say a few words. In general, the comments related to their respective years as president and the friendships that they had developed through the Chapter.

Leber/Rubes Inc. and Underwriter's Laboratories of Canada were presented with a plaque for their tremendous support in the Chapter.

The Magic Minstrel entertained the participants into the wee hours of the morning. The Chapter was grateful for the support of the following companies in helping to make the evening a success.

  • ARENCON
  • Baxter Consulting Limited
  • Canadian Automatic Sprinkler Association
  • C.H.C. & Associates
  • Harding Fire Protection Systems Company Limited
  • Leber/Rubes Inc.
  • Marsh Canada Limited
  • Munich Reinsurance Group
  • R.J. Shirer & Associates Inc.
  • Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology
  • Siemens - Cerberus Division
  • SimplexGrinnell
  • Starr Technical Risk
  • System Sensor
  • Tyco Thermal Controls - Pyrotenax
  • Vipond Inc.

The 35th anniversary celebration would not have been such as success without the hard work and dedication of the Executive Committee, especially Anthony Van Odyk, who spent enormous time in organizing this event.

In 2001, the Southern Ontario Chapter published a 44 page commemorative booklet of the significant events and achievements of the past 35 years. The booklet included many congratulatory letters, a listing of the Board of Directors during the 25th Anniversary, a listing of past presidents, the Southern Ontario Chapter history, details of the 35th Anniversary dinner, the 2000/2001 Membership, the Constitution, and allotted space for supporters and advertisers.

The 50th Anniversary

The 50th Anniversary Event, which included a full day of technical seminars and opportunities to network within our fire protection community, was held at the St. Andrews Club & Conference Centre, 150 King St. West, Toronto. The event included morning and afternoon sessions of technical speakers. In the afternoon session, the Expert Panel brought together representatives from the insurance, consulting, fire testing, service and regulatory components of our industry to discuss emerging trends in their respective fields and hot industry topics. Attendees had the opportunity to join for part of a day or to participate in the full day of technical seminars.

We were very pleased that SFPE International President, Michael J. Madden, could join our Expert Panel and also provided an update to our attendees on our organization during the event.

Concluding Summary

After more than 50 years, the Southern Ontario Chapter is alive and well. We have a well-established tradition of technical development through our luncheon meetings, participating in public policy, supporting education in the field of fire protection engineering, and donations to worthy causes and organizations related to our field.

The Southern Ontario Chapter of SFPE has been awarded a GOLD Chapter Excellence Award by the SFPE Board of Directors. This is the third award as a Chapter and the first GOLD! The award recognizes the efforts of the Chapter Executive and the continued support and contributions from our membership and professional community.

In this new millennium, we stand poised to proceed confidently into the 21st century, continuing to promote the art and science of fire protection engineering.

A special thanks to all the men and women, who have participated on the executive committee of the Southern Ontario Chapter in the past 50 years and in particular to their substantial contribution to the success of the Southern Ontario Chapter.

Chapter Presidents

TENURE NAME
1965–1967 Robert Beach
1967–1968 C.R.E. (Bob) Allen
1968–1970 Leslie J. Estey
1970–1972 John J. Oldaker
1972–1973 Denny H. Featherstonhaugh
1973–1976 A.Q. (Van) Vanderploeg
1976–1978 William S. Clark
1978–1980 Donald J. Boehmer
1980–1982 Allan J. Hill
1982–1984 Paul H. Kevill
1984–1986 Scott G. Aitchison
1986–1988 Randal Brown
1988–1990 Krystyna Paterson
1990–1992 Peter H. Rizacos
1992–1993 Eric Esselink
1993–1995 George Fawcett
1995–1997 Don Keefe
1997–1999 Anthony H.G. Van Odyk
1999–2001 Tom Chiang
2001–2003 Monwah Casey Loo
2003–2004 Steve Ridyard
2004–2006 Steve Baxter
2006–2008 Brian Bishop
2008–2010 Paul Adams
2010–2012 Donald Falconer
2012–2014 Edward Koe
2014–2016 Melinda Amador
2016–present Stanis Yu
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