The Firefighter Injury/illness Remediation Enterprise: Work-participation that Enables Life & Livelihood program is a collaborative work-health research program established in 2006.

FIREWELL is a national team of firefighters (full-time, part-time, volunteer), researchers and people interested in firefighter health who are working together to improve firefighters’ health and safety through research. Our goal is to develop and share tools that can be helpful in supporting healthy work participation specifically for firefighters.

Firefighter Collaborators

Firefighters involved in FIREWELL have various roles including: helping set the research direction; working together with researchers to define the research questions important to firefighters; designing study methods; executing the study protocol; and implementing the research findings in the fire service.

Captain Robert D’Amico

Captain Robert D’Amico is a Captain with the Hamilton Fire Department and the Secretary of the Hamilton Professional Firefighters Association. As a champion of firefighter research, he has played an integral role in the development and operationalization of research projects. Captain D’Amico ensures that the tools developed from research findings are relevant to firefighters.

Firefighter Regan Bolduc

Regan Bolduc is a Professional Firefighter with Thunder Bay Fire Rescue and a member of the Thunder Bay Professional Fire Fighters Association (IAFF, Local 193). He is Co-Chair of the Department’s Critical Incident Response Team, as well as a “Road to Mental Readiness” and Auto Extrication Instructor. Regan is working with Dr. Kathryn Sinden (Lakehead University) to identify the impact of firefighting on Thunder Bay Firefighters’ work health.

Division Chief Dennis Brescacin

Division Chief Dennis Brescacin is the Division Chief of Administration – Thunder Bay Fire Rescue and President of Thunder Bay Professional Firefighters’ Association. He is the Emergency Manager for the City of Thunder Bay, a member of the Department’s Critical Incident Response team, an Occupational Health and Safety Level 2 firefighter job specific certified, and former member of the Thunder Bay Fire Rescue OH&S Committee. He is also the ex-officio member of the City of Thunder Bay Psychological Health & Wellness Executive Committee. Division Chief Brescacin is working with Dr. Kathryn Sinden (Lakehead University) to improve the mental health and wellness of Thunder Bay firefighters through research.

Captain Steve Fraser

Captain Steve Fraser is a Captain of the Mental Health and Safety Division with Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services (VF&RS) and the coordinator for VF&RS critical incident stress management team. With 20+ years of experience in the fire service, he has taken his knowledge and expertise in the field and applied it to firefighter-specific programs, training and education. Captain Fraser is the co-author of the Resilient Minds program, an approved instructor for the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation and a certified Field Traumatologist with the Canadian Traumatology Institute.

Lieutenant Louise Hine-Schmidt

Lieutenant Louise Hine-Schmidt was one of the first three female firefighters in the City of Ottawa. She is a Lieutenant with the Ottawa Fire Services and Past-President of Fire Service Women Ontario (FSWO). Lieutenant Hine-Schmidt co-founded FSWO to promote firefighting as a career to other women.

Firefighter Pike Krpan

Firefighter Pike Krpan is a career firefighter with the Hamilton Fire Department where she is also a member of the High Angle Rope Rescue team. She is President of Fire Service Women Ontario (FSWO). With the FSWO team, she is currently developing a toolkit for fire departments to better address the barriers women firefighters face in recruitment, hiring, retention and promotion in Ontario’s fire service.

Chief Ken McMullen

Chief Ken McMullen is the Chief / Emergency Services Manager of the City of Red Deer Emergency Services. Chief McMullen is a Board Member and Lead on Mental Health with the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC). He also represents CAFC on the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) steering committees.

Deputy Fire Chief Karen Roche

Deputy Fire Chief Karen Roche is the Deputy Fire Chief of the Burlington Fire Department (BFD). Prior to her appointment at the BFD, Deputy Fire Chief Roche served as Assistant Deputy Chief with the Hamilton Fire Department. Deputy Fire Chief Roche is involved in research that focuses on firefighter health issues and fire prevention.

Lieutenant Chris Ross

Lieutenant Chris Ross is a Lieutenant with the Montreal Fire Department and new President of the Montreal Firefighters Association. During his years as the Association’s Vice-President (2011-2018), Lieutenant Ross managed the Montreal firefighters’ occupational health and safety issues. He also serves as Co-Chair of the Joint Workplace Health and Safety Committee and has applied his occupational health and safety expertise on other firefighter research projects.

Researcher Collaborators

Our national network of researchers have demonstrated expertise in conducting research in partnership with firefighters, as well as occupational health.

Dr. Joy MacDermid PT, PhD, Scientific Director

Dr. Joy MacDermid is a physical therapist, hand therapist, and researcher. She is cross-appointed as a Professor in Physical Therapy at Western University and in Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University. Upon request of the fire service in Hamilton, Dr. MacDermid established FIREWELL, a collaborative research program focusing on firefighter health and work outcomes. Her research interest include: work health, clinical measurement, rehabilitation, implementation, and knowledge translation.

Dr. Amanda Brazil PhD, MAEd

Dr. Amanda Brazil is a Research Scientist at the Centre for Health and Community Research (University of Prince Edward Island) and a volunteer firefighter and medical first responder with the Cross Roads Fire Department (PEI). Her research areas include mental health and critical incidents, corrections and social justice. She recently published a descriptive study on critical incident exposure and post exposure management in the volunteer fire service. Dr. Brazil’s unique experience as a social scientist and volunteer firefighter gives her valuable insight into firefighters’ roles and responsibilities.

Ms. Robin Campbell PhD(c), BSW, MRM

Ms. Robin Campbell is a PhD candidate in the School of Occupational Therapy at Dalhousie University. Robin’s doctoral research will explore the mental health service planning and delivery systems for volunteer firefighters in Nova Scotia. Robin was a volunteer firefighter and pump operator with the Wolfville Fire Department (NS) for ten years, and currently volunteers as a Fire Commissioner with the Greenwich Fire Department (NS). Robin’s research interests include volunteer first responders and occupation health, mental health, and the criminalization of mental illness.

Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton PhD

Dr. Nicholas Carleton is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Regina. He is also currently serving as the Scientific Director for the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment. Dr. Carleton is actively involved in clinical and experimental research involving biopsychosocial measurement, assessment, and treatments of trauma, anxiety, and somatic disorders. Dr. Carleton also maintains a small private practice for military, first responders, and other public safety personnel who have anxiety and related disorders, particularly pain and posttraumatic stress.

Dr. Heather Carnahan PhD

Dr. Heather Carnahan has a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo and is currently the Dean of the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation at Memorial University, and also holds a cross appointment at the Offshore Safety and Survival Centre at the Marine Institute. Her research involves applying current motor control and learning theory to studying the acquisition and retention of technical skills in various real life domains such as safety and survival skills associated with marine transport, aviation, zero gravity environments, and health care.

Dr. Heidi Cramm PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.)

Dr. Heidi Cramm is an Assistant Professor at the School of Rehabilitation Therapy in Queen’s University. She is also the Interim Co-Scientific Director of the Canadian Institute for Military & Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR), and the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) Chair for Firefighters. Dr. Cramm’s research focuses on military and Veteran family health, with an emphasis on mental health.

Dr. David Frost PhD

Dr. David Frost is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto.  Dr. Frost’s research interests include: sport, exercise and occupational biomechanics; musculoskeletal health and injury prevention; and firefighter wellness and fitness. Dr. Frost is involved in the International Association of Fire Fighters’ Wellness Fitness Initiative (WFI) and Peer Fitness Training Program for Firefighters.

Dr. Veronica Jamnik PhD

Dr. Veronica (Roni) Jamnik is an Associate Professor  and the Coordinator of the Fitness Specialization Stream in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science.  Dr. Jamnik’s current research has three different themes: i) establishing bona fide occupational physical plus physiological fitness screening and incumbent protocols for physically demanding occupations in conformity with court decisions and human rights requirements; ii) investigating the mechanisms underlying the heterogeneity in individual training adaptations resulting from the same training impulse; and iii)  evidence-based exercise prescriptions for the following chronic conditions:  Prediabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, Type 1 Diabetes, Creeping Obesity.

Ms. Jennifer Keir MSc

Ms. Jennifer Keir completed the first ever study to assess firefighters’ exposure to carcinogenic and mutagenic compounds during emergency fire events, which received worldwide media attention, in 2017. She is passionate about translating findings from in-field, scientific studies to the firefighting community so that they can improve and reinforce procedures that reduce firefighters exposures, ultimately reducing illness, disease and injury for their departments. Ms. Keir is currently a Research Technician in the Environmental Tracers and Contaminants at the University of Ottawa focusing on methods of dermal decontamination for firefighters.

Dr. Kathryn Sinden R.Kin., PhD

Dr. Kathryn Sinden is a Registered Kinesiologist and Assistant Professor in the School of Kinesiology at Lakehead University. Dr. Sinden’s research is focused on improving the health and well being of workers using a participatory, applied ergonomic approach with foundations in knowledge translation theory. She also is interested in furthering understanding of how occupational physical demands and physical capacity influence task performance strategies particularly with respect to mechanisms of muscle fatigue. Dr. Sinden also has 14 years of work experience as a kinesiologist in the field of disability management and ergonomics.

Susan Stock

Dr. Susan Stock MD, MSc, FRCPC

Dr. Susan Stock is a specialist in occupational medicine and in public health & preventive medicine and researcher at the Québec Institute of Public Health where she heads the Scientific Group on Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSD). She is also an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Montreal. Dr. Stock led the development of evidence-based guide and decision aid tools to assist workplaces implement modified work programs for workers with WMSD. Her expertise includes WMSD epidemiology and development and evaluation of preventive and rehabilitation interventions.

Dr. Michael Williams-Bell PhD

Dr. Michael Williams-Bell is a Professor in the Fitness and Health Promotion (FHP) program in the School of Health and Community Services at Durham College and Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). Dr. Williams-Bell completed his PhD at UOIT in Applied Bioscience examining the effects of heat stress on cognitive function in professional firefighters using traditional cognitive assessments and developed a serious game to evaluate more realistic decision-making tasks. Dr. Williams-Bell’s research involves quantifying the physiological demands of firefighting through incorporating Big Data analytics and virtual reality simulation to improve training and resilience assessment.

Healthcare Professionals Collaborators

Clinicians and disability management specialists involved in FIREWELL bring expertise in firefighter workplace health.

Mr. Nick Halmasy MACP, Registered Psychotherapist

Mr. Nick Halmasy is a former firefighter and fire instructor with a decade of experience in the service. He has completed a Master’s of Arts in Counselling Psychology and is a Registered Psychotherapist with a clinical practice specialty in first responders mental health. Mr. Halmasy started After the Call to develop and disseminate free mental health resources to both First Responders and their Families.

Dr. Mike Pysklywec MD, MSc, CCFP(EM) DOHS FCBOM

Dr. Mike Pysklywec is the physician for the Occupational Health and Exposure Program (OHEP) for Hamilton firefighters. He also works at the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) with broad experience in evaluating work-relatedness of musculoskeletal disorders, as well as conducting and evaluating surveillance and wellness programs in Ontario workplaces.

Liz Scott bio photo

Dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Scott PhD

Dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Scott is a researcher and Principal / CEO of Organizational Solutions Inc. (OSI), a national disability management company. Dr. Scott has expertise in developing workplace accommodations designed in response to individual worker and employer needs. Dr. Scott and her organization have worked with a local firefighting service to assist workers’ RTW following work-related and non-work-related injuries.


Our academic trainees come from different disciplines and are involved in all aspects of FIREWELL research: project development, data collection, data analysis, stakeholder engagement, co-authorship of papers and presentations, and mentorship by program experts.

Current Trainees

NameYearDegreeUniversity / Supervisor
Sara Stretton2021-PhDHealth Promotion, Western University
Supervisor: Dr. Joy MacDermid
Temitope Osifeso2021-PhDPhysical Therapy, Western University
Supervisor: Dr. Joy MacDermid
Shannon Killip2018-PhDRehabilitation Science, McMaster University
Supervisor: Dr. Joy MacDermid

Past Trainees

Firefighter Partner Organizations

FIREWELL is a coast-to-coast partnership that represents diversity in types of fire services, genders, provinces, and rural/urban contexts. Firefighters across all levels in the fire services hierarchy–from front-line firefighters to chiefs–contribute to the development, implementation and evaluation of FIREWELL research.

Fire Service Women Ontario

Fire Service Women Ontario (FSWO) is a member-driven, not-for-profit organization committed to fostering a professional, skilled, harmonious, and diverse fire service. Our membership of approx. 300 men and women are in career and volunteer fire service roles, as well as fire service leaders, educators, municipal officials, fire management and associations. View website

Hamilton Fire Department

The Hamilton Fire Department is comprised of 548 full time and 270 volunteer firefighters and is responsible for providing Fire Protection Services to the City of Hamilton. Over the last 10 years, the Hamilton Fire Department has collaborated with FIREWELL researchers to identify contextually relevant research that can be immediately implemented to the benefit of their firefighters’ work health. View website

Hamilton Professional Fire Fighters Association

The Hamilton Professional Fire Fighters Association, IAFF L288 represents 535 men and women fire fighters who provide full-time fire protection in the City of Hamilton. HPFFA has a long history of working collaboratively with the management of the Hamilton Fire Department and FIREWELL researchers to create healthy and productive firefighters. View website

Montréal Firefighters Association (L’Association des Pompiers de Montréal)

The Montréal Firefighters Association, IAFF L125 represents over 2,400 firefighters working in 67 stations across Montréal. The Association is committed to protecting the health and wellbeing of Montréal firefighters. View website

Prince Edward Island Firefighters Association

The PEI Firefighters Association represents firefighters who are providing fire services across Prince Edward Island. The Association is dedicated to advancing the safety of fire services through training across the Island. View website

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue

The Thunder Bay Fire Rescue consists of 206 active duty firefighters dedicated to providing emergency response and fire protection services to the City of Thunder Bay, and by mutual agreement, the surrounding areas. Thunder Bay Fire Rescue has a long history of developing strategies to improve the health and safety of our firefighters. View website

Thunder Bay Professional Fire Fighters Association

The Thunder Bay Professional Fire Fighters Association, IAFF L193 proudly serves the 206 firefighters, fire prevention, training, administration and mechanical members of Thunder Bay Fire Rescue. TBPFFA is actively engaged with TBFR to develop programs that help to ensure the health and safety of their firefighters. View website

Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services

Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services provides emergency services to residents, businesses, and visitors to the City of Vancouver and UBC. Over 800 uniformed women and men respond to more than 67,000 calls per year out of 20 firehalls, and provide services including fire suppression, auto-extrication, pre-hospital care, hazardous materials response, technical rescue, and marine response. A dedicated team of Fire Prevention Officers based out of three offices work with businesses, tenants, and property owners to educate, and enforce BC Fire Code and City Fire Bylaw. View website

Research Partner Organizations

FIREWELL also collaborates with organizations that conduct research to improve firefighter health and safety.

Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research

The Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) is a network of academic researchers from across Canada who are working together to enhance the health and wellbeing of Canadian military personnel, Veterans and their families through world-class research. View website

The Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment

The Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) is a national network of Canadian academic researchers working with key stakeholders on a long-term initiative to identify the tools required to support the recognition, prevention, intervention, and treatment of mental health concerns facing Canadian first responders, other public safety personnel, and their families. View Website

The Offshore Safety and Survival Centre – Marine Institute

The Offshore Safety and Survival Centre (OSSC) is part of the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University—Canada’s most comprehensive centre for education, training, applied research and industrial support for the ocean industries. The OSSC’s state-of-the art firefighting facility offers training and research in industrial safety and firefighting. View website

Other Partner Organizations

Other FIREWELL partner organizations have unique complementary expertise in mental health, disability management and technology.

Canadian Mental Health Association, British Columbia

The Canadian Mental Health Association, British Columbia Division (CMHA-BC) promotes mental health and supports the resilience and recovery of people living with mental illness. CMHA-BC has been a partner with CMHA-VF in their development of Resilient Minds, a unique firefighter-led mental health program. View website

Canadian Mental Health Association, Prince Edward Island

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Prince Edward Island Division (CMHA-PEI) is a non-profit mental health agency promoting the mental health of all Islanders through programs and services, education and information, research, advocacy and the development of social policy. CMHA-PEI recently introduced a new firefighter mental health and resiliency program called Resilient Minds to the Island. View website

Canadian Mental Health Association, Vancouver-Fraser

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Vancouver-Fraser Branch (CMHA-VF) is dedicated to providing resources people require to maintain and improve mental health and community integration, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness. CMHA-VF partnered with the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services to develop the peer-led training, “Resilient Minds – Building the Psychological Strength of Fire Fighters”, to increase the mental health literacy in firefighters, provide applicable intervention tools to mitigate the negative impacts of work-related stress, critical incident exposure, and mental health problems, encourage early access care and to strengthen their own psychological health through evidence-based skills and strategies. In addition, the program equips fire staff with knowledge on how to assist a member of the public struggling with a mental health problem or crisis. View website


CRACKYL is a ground-breaking publication dedicated to the mental and physical wellbeing of firefighters; the first of its kind. CRACKYL is partnered with the top associations, fire service industry leaders, and experts to bring you cutting-edge research and thought-provoking content to active firefighters on the job today. View website


Dartfish is a video-based movement analysis software that will provide the FIREWELL team the platform to provide visual, performance-based feedback to firefighters on task performance. View Website

Organizational Solutions Inc.

Organizational Solutions Inc. (OSI) is a national disability management company that employs health care professionals from a variety of backgrounds. OSI’s disability management specialists work with employers and workers across Canada to develop individualized solutions for workplace accommodations including RTW. View Website

FIREWELL Coordinating Centre

The FIREWELL Coordinating Centre oversees the daily operations of the FIREWELL initiative, including communications, project activities and website management.

Ms. Margaret Lomotan BA, Research Manager

Ms. Margaret Lomotan has over 10 years of experience working with firefighters on research projects. She oversees FIREWELL’s daily operations and coordinates the team project and knowledge translation activities.

Funding Organizations

The FIREWELL research projects are funded by provincial and federal funding agencies.

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