FSWO Announces New Strategic Plan

FSWO’s mission to encourage, educate and empower women in the fire service in Ontario has not changed. Our values recognize our duty to be accountable, collaborative, inclusive and supportive while promoting and fostering a sense of camaraderie amongst the membership.

Two female firefighters in full turnout gear adjust their breathing apparatus in a smoky room.

In 2009, FSWO was founded by a mighty group of just three women firefighters who came together and learned the value of networking, mutual support, and visibility. Now we are approximately 450 members and growing. We continue to embody those founding principles today more than ever.

Over the past year, FSWO has undergone a strategic planning process to understand where we have been, and where we’d like to go. We’d like to thank all our members and partners who took part in this process which has helped FSWO to prioritize a number of strategic directions for the next 5 years.

We are pleased to confirm that FSWO’s mission to encourage, educate and empower women in the fire service in Ontario has not changed. We know this mission resonates with you. We also have a new set of values which recognizes that future success is dependent on being accountable, collaborative, inclusive and supportive while promoting and fostering a sense of camaraderie amongst the membership. By living these values, FSWO will be deserving of respect and trust that will help us to fulfill our mission with integrity, while moving closer to our newly articulated vision - that gender equity is the norm in the fire service, not the exception!

We understand gender equity to be the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all women, while striving to eliminate barriers that prevent their full participation.

These are the three strategic directions we will take in the next five years:


Trusted, reliable support for ALL women; where and when they need it.

1. Accelerate the progress for women to enter, stay and succeed in Ontario’s fire service. We will continue to educate, mentor and celebrate women leaders in the fire service. We will expand our offerings to better understand and respond to the pressing needs of women in all divisions. We will explore ways to efficiently and effectively offer continuous learning opportunities.

2. Enhance the fire service culture. We will advocate for a healthy, positive and professional workplace. We will continue to work with fire service leaders to improve the experience of women in all departments, so they feel recognized, supported and appreciated. We will raise awareness of women role models and mentors, lending our voice to presenting Ontario’s Fire Service as a viable career option for women.


Leverage partnerships to meet the needs of women in the fire service.

3. Develop relationships with purpose. We will build on the strength of our reputation and continue advocating for the right resources to advance the careers of women in the fire service. We will foster meaningful relationships with fire service leaders, provincial associations and external stakeholders. Our members, non-members and partners will better understand and support our vision of gender equity in the fire service. We will create synergies with our partners, leverage supports and identify best-in-practice tools to address the needs of all women in the fire service.

4. Honour our role as an expert in advocating for gender equity. We will continue to strengthen relationships with municipalities and other fire service partners. We will work collaboratively to support and invest in Ontario’s fire service by providing partners with our stories and information to communicate our greatest needs and campaign on our behalf.


Deliver quality services and support through effective resource use.

5. Develop a financial plan. We will develop a 5-year plan that addresses budgetary needs. There will be a process established to renew this plan annually. This plan will establish priorities that balance risk with financial viability.

6. Develop and implement a strategic human resources plan. Human resource needs will be identified, in concert with development of the financial plan and with a view to successfully achieving the strategic plan.

We are pleased to report that work is underway to complete and implement the next stage of our financial sustainability plan that makes it possible for FSWO to support its administrative needs which includes an annual operating budget that funds a position for an Executive Director and other resources as required.

FSWO believes that success in achieving gender equity is predicated on the support of a growing membership as well as engagement with other stakeholders who share our vision. If you see yourself taking some of these steps with us, as an individual or as an organization, please reach out to us!