Awards of Distinction
The OPFFA Awards honour those few exceptional individuals whose passion, dedication and hard work have made a lasting impression on the membership and the association. Recipients receive their awards at the OPFFA convention which happens biennially (odd years).
On behalf of firefighters across Ontario, the OPFFA thanks the 2021 recipients for their outstanding service to the firefighter profession.
2021 Award Recipients
The Joe Adamkowski Award
The Joe Adamkowski Award was established in memory of Joe Adamkowski who served the Thunder Bay Fire Department for over 23 years, serving as their local leader for over 20 years and the OPFFA for more than 5 years. Joe was astute at political action and a strong advocate for his fellow firefighters. This prestigious award recognizes firefighter leadership and is awarded to an individual who has demonstrated a high-level of commitment to labour issues which have a significant and positive impact for firefighters, the community at large, the province and beyond.
2021 Recipient: Frank Ramagnano
Frank is the longest-serving Principal Officer in the history of the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters' Association (TPFA). Frank joined the TPFA prior to the amalgamation of the Old City of Toronto and played an integral role in developing the new Toronto Local 3888. While serving on the Executive Board of the TPFA for more than 8 years, and later the OPFFA and OMERs Boards, Frank has played a vital role in the collective bargaining process ensuring fair compensation, a secure retirement, better working hours and safer working conditions for Ontario’s firefighters.
Frank’s outstanding work goes beyond supporting firefighters and extends to the local community. Frank has served as the Toronto representative for the United Way Committee and was the driving force behind the creation of the Toronto Firefighters Toy Drive non-profit charity. It is not uncommon to see him at Toronto’s Union Station at 7am holding a boot to collect donations for muscular dystrophy.
Frank has recently accepted a full-time position with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) in Washington which represents more than 324,000 full-time professional firefighters and paramedics throughout the United States and Canada.
“For the past two decades Frank has worked tirelessly to address grievances, labour issues, and advocate for fair market-based compensation, affordable health benefits, and a secure and dignified retirement for our members. He has built strong strategic relationships which have improved workplace health and safety policies. The fruits of his labour have benefited our members and by extension their families and the community. Strong advocacy means stronger communities.” -Carmen Santoro, OPFFA President
Past Recipients Include: Jim Lee, Toronto 3888 (2019), Colin Arnott, Pickering 1632 (2017), Ed Kennedy, Toronto 3888 (2015), Frank Azevedo, Clarington 3139, Wayne Willet, Niagara Falls 528 (2011), Dave Hanley, Sarnia 492 (2009) and Terry Colburn St. Catharines 485 (2007)
The Patrick J. Defazio Award
The Patrick J. Defazio Award was established in recognition of the work Patrick Defazio did to promote better health and safety measures for Ontario’s firefighters. Patrick DeFazio served for many years as the Chair of the OPFFA Occupational Health and Safety Committee and represented the OPFFA on the Provincial Section 21 Committee (presently Section 21). He was instrumental in establishing the Canadian General Standard for Firefighter Bunker Gear.
2021 Recipient: Bruce Kinsman
Bruce Kinsman has served the Pickering community as a professional firefighter for twenty-seven years and was President of the Pickering Professional Firefighters Association (PPFA) for 12 years. He is passionate about advocating for health and safety of his fellow firefighters. Over the course of his twelve years as Co-Chair of the Joint Health and Safety Committee, he ensured firefighters had two sets of bunker gear, personal regulators and facemasks, headsets on all fire apparatus, and that the station implemented after fire decontamination protocols. He advocated for a hearing conservation program to monitor the risk of hearing loss as a result of occupational noise exposure. Most recently, Bruce worked to ensure the safety of Pickering’s members during the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring firefighters had proper PPE and access to front line testing.
Bruce Kinsman will retire from the firefighter service in November 2021 and undoubtedly will be leaving the profession in a better position than when he became a professional firefighter in 1994.
“Firefighting is a risky profession. On any call our members may be exposed to extreme temperatures, falling objects, toxic substances and strenuous physical labour. Over the course of a firefighter’s career they are at risk of cancer, traumatic injury, cardiovascular and respiratory disease. That is why the work of members like Bruce Kinsman is so important to our profession.” -Carmen Santoro, OPFFA President
Past Recipients Include: John Mavrinac, Timmins 535 (2019), Geoff Boisseau, Toronto 3888 (2017), Graham Koshurba, Oakville 1582 (2015), John Powers, Cornwall 849 (2013), Gerry Pedwell, Pickering 1632 (2011), Daryl Stephenson, London 142 (2009), Dean Defazio, Oakville 1582 (2007), Ellard Beavan, Timmins 535 (2005), Reid Brown, Oakville 1582 (2003), Peter McGough, Kitchener 457 and Dan Dancy, Windsor 455 (1999)
The Ed Hothersall Award
The Ed Hothersall Award was established in memory of Ed Hothersall who served the London Fire Department, and as an executive for OPFFA, for more than 30 years. He was instrumental in the formative years of the Association helping it grow into the progressive organization that it is today. He was a delegate to the first Labour Relations Seminar held by the OPFFA in October of 1958. He was also involved in community initiatives and was known for his compassion in helping brother firefighters at any time when they were in need of personal assistance. This prestigious award recognizes firefighter dedication for their service to their association and the community at large.
2021 Recipient: Fred Audibert
Fred Audibert recently retired in 2020 after serving the Niagara Falls community as a career firefighter for 31 years. Fred joined the Niagara Falls Professional Fire Fighter Association (NFPFFA) in 1989 and during his career, Fred was a strong advocate for labour rights and principles. In addition to his exemplary service as a career firefighter, Fred spent much of his off-duty time supporting local community charities. Now retired, Fred continues to dedicate his time and efforts to these worthy organizations.
“Firefighters serve their communities every day whether through fire suppression, emergency medical calls, specialized rescues or fire prevention education. This work is very visible but there is also less visible work done behind the scenes that has an equal impact on the community at large. When not on the front lines, Fred Audibert worked behind the scenes building relationships with Niagara Falls’ city council and members of the provincial government, and was a strong advocate for his fellow firefighters.” -Carmen Santoro, OPFFA President
Past Recipients Include: Ed Glover, Brantford 460 (2019), Dave Hollwell, Toronto 3888 (2017), Jeff Hassim, St. Catharines (2015), Dave Lang, Sault Ste Marie 529 (2013), John Stephenson, Belleville 497 (2011), Randy Petrie, Stratford 534, (2009), Pierre Potvin, Ottawa 162 (2007), Ron Bruce, Woodstock 477 (2005), Chris Collins, Waterloo 791 (2003), Dennis Smith, Quinte West 1328 (2001), Den Daigneau, Owen Sound 531 (1999) and Charlie Lawrence, Ottawa 162 (1997).