Public Order Policies

Recent events showed the need for Toronto's police and fire departments to work together when handling civil unrest and disorder.

The role of the TFS is to support the Public Order Unit (POU). At any Public Order incident, the TFS will only be responsible for duties normally preformed by the fire service at any other emergency incident. Toronto Fire Services provides a number of functions as outlined in the MOU signed between the two Services in 2003. The core functions are as follows:

  • Provide a TFS-PSU/POU Liaison Officer;
  • Provide rescue and fire protection;
  • Provide Hazardous Material intervention including gross decontamination;
  • Provide CBRN response and support including gross decontamination;
  • Conduct Hazardous Materials surveys or evaluations;
  • Perform physical search and rescue operations in damaged/collapsed structures, and
  • Assist Toronto Emergency Medical Services with patient care when requested.

Firefighter safety is paramount in this operation. The intent of the TFS role is NOT to enter an area where police and demonstrators are interacting. The intended role is to work with the police site command to provide fire services and support without endangering TFS staff. The on-scene TFS response is directed by police through the TFS Liaison Officer.

Each of the four TFS Commands has one Rescue/Pumper with a crew on each platoon trained in public order unit structure and techniques, crowd management theory, and a basic understanding of crowd dynamics. This training, which is provided by the TPS, provides firefighters with a common and shared view of responsibilities at a POU incident. During deployment at these types of incidents TFS Personnel shall:

  • Be under the exclusive command and control of TFS Officers
  • Not enter into or participate in TPS-POU duties
  • Not participate in crowd control
  • Not utilize TFS equipment against crowds or in a hostile and aggressive manner
  • Not carry, utilize or be issued with offensive or defensive weapons
  • Wear TFS issued Personal Protective Equipment

TFS Liaison Officer Responsibilities

The role of the TFS-PSU/POU Liaison Officer is to provide liaison between TPS and TFS Joint Operations Apparatus, TFS Incident Commander and TFS resources. The Liaison Officer will be responsible for providing information to the TFS Command structure for planned, upcoming events. In addition to this he/she will prepare and have approved a Strategic Operational Plan for TFS response during each event. During the event, the liaison officer will provide TFS Communications and Command with information and intelligence, as it becomes available from the scene. Should a fire service response be required, the Liaison Officer will, under the direction of TPS POU Command, direct TFS Joint Operations Apparatus in and out of the scene.

The Liaison Officer will also provide support to Field Site Police Command. Any issue that involves TFS participation during an incident will be done through the Liaison Officer.

The TFS-POU Liaison Officer will in consultation with the TFS Incident Commander, terminate the incident by completing the following tasks:

  • Assist in the incident debriefing
  • Assist in the incident critique
  • Assist in the preparation of reports and documentation of the incident
  • Clearing all TFS apparatus and resources

Joint Operations Apparatus Deployment Options

The type of deployment of the Joint Operations Apparatus will largely depend on the nature and venue of the event. Decisions regarding deployment are usually made just prior to the event, to ensure the most recent intelligence has been considered. The four options for deployment are:

Staging Area

At large pre-planned events, a predetermined staging area will be designated. This staging area is typically selected to facilitate a police escort, should the need for one arise. All apparatus responding to a call inside the Police Area of Responsibility will go to that location, contact the Liaison Officer via radio, and wait for instructions. The staging area may also be used to stage Joint Operations Apparatus in a stand-by mode.


The training has been set up as an awareness program with an emphasis on firefighter safety. Learners will have an understanding of what the Public Safety/Public Order Unit is and how it functions when deployed. Participants also learn about crowd dynamics and how to recognize the characteristics of a changing crowd and potential hazards if a crowd uses violence. Finally, students learn how to respond to a large crowd event co-ordinated through the Public Safety/Public Order Unit.