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Established in 1985, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) is the final level of appeal to which workers and employers may bring disputes concerning workplace safety and insurance matters in Ontario. WSIAT has always been separate from and independent of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

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  Decision 2351 14
5/4/2015
M. Keil - M. Trudeau - K. Hoskin

  • Firefighter
  • Heart attack

The worker was a volunteer firefighter for 35 years, the last six years as a fire chief. On December 3, 2009, there was an early morning call regarding a fire in another district. The worker dispatched a hook and ladder truck and firefighters (including his son, who was also a firefighter) to assist. The worker stayed in the fire hall, listening to the scanner, when he suffered a fatal heart attack. The worker's estate appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement. The presumption of entitlement for firefighters who suffer a heart attack in Board Operational Policy Manual, Document No. 15-03-12, was not applicable because the heart attack did not occur within 24 hours of the worker attending a fire. The estate raised three possible sources of acute mental stressors. The first was the worker's attendance the previous day at a suicide call. The Panel did not accept this as an acute mental stressor because the worker did not know the victim, was not the first responder and had no direct dealings with the victim. The second possible source of acute mental stress was administrative responsibilities relating to construction of a new fire hall. The Panel did not accept this as an acute mental stressor because construction had been ongoing for almost a year and, further, administrative responsibilities fell within the purview of the normal duties of a fire chief. The third possible source was the events on the morning of the heart attack. However, the Panel found that the worker did not exhibit any concern about his son's welfare that was witnessed by others. The worker had significant underlying risk factors for heart attack. The events on the morning of the heart attack were not a significant contributing factor. The appeal was dismissed.