At FirstOnSite we strive to embrace sustainability initiatives that extend into our workplaces, our communities, and our environment.
The business of our company itself often involves impacts on the environment. We are typically called upon to minimize and mitigate loss to customers and the environment during disasters which can include flooding, sewer back-up, chemical spills, fire or smoke damage, asbestos, lead, mould or biohazard abatement.
Additional key environmental impact areas include energy and material use, and carbon emissions in the restoration work itself. We strive to make continuous improvement in all these areas.
Our dedication to innovation is a pillar of our business which also guides our approach to environmental performance. Our move to tablet technology, our partnerships with environmentally responsible suppliers, and the incorporation of fuel efficient and lower carbon emitting vehicles all are elements of our commitment to reducing our environmental footprint.
Material Use & Supply Chain
We strive to choose environmentally responsible suppliers for the consumables we use during the restoration process. For example, Benefect offers a botanical cleaning solution for professionals in the restoration industry. This botanical technology is proven to kill over 99.99% of bacteria and surpasses Health Canada’s efficacy requirements for broad spectrum hospital disinfectants. Likewise, Rochester Midland Limited (RML), as an example is one of the leaders in green cleaning products and utilization. RML products allows us to remain environmentally responsible when using cleaning and disinfection products.
Specific products that we regularly use include:
Benefect Botanical Disinfectant – Plant based disinfectant with a TB kill. OSHA blood born pathogen compliant
Benefect Decon30 Disinfectant – Plant based disinfectant. 30 second disinfectant on bacteria
Benefect Atomic Degreaser – no VOC’s solvent free heavy-duty degreaser
Benefect Multi-Purpose Cleaner – no VOC’s solvent free botanical ingredients multipurpose cleaner
Benefect Impact Carpet Cleaner — no VOC’s solvent free botanical ingredients cleaner for carpets and upholstery
Benefect Evergreen – Botanical Degreaser designed for ultrasonics cleaning
Benefect Quantum cleaner – Bio Based peroxide free cleaner for chemical residues
RML Neutral disinfectant – Eco friendly disinfectant
We also look to work with suppliers that have public environmental commitments. For example, we have a vendor agreement with STAPLES as our national office supply company. STAPLES holds both ISO 9001 (Quality) and ISO 14001 (Environment) National Registrations, and offers approximately 2,700 products with environmental attributes.
Recycling and Waste Diversion
Recycling and Waste Diversion are important aspects of our business. We identify and separate waste materials in efforts to recycle as much material as possible. Non-recyclable materials are removed and disposed of at approved environmental waste facilities. Waste items such as wood, metal, concrete, etc. that cannot be restored are also segregated and recycled accordingly. Restoration itself is better for the environment than replacement. Contents restoration (i.e. furniture, computers, TVs, appliances, clothing, documents, etc.). is a significant area where we can avoid filling landfill sites. We have processing centers equipped with specialized ultrasonic and electronic cleaning stations (i.e. Fire Line), soft goods cleaning equipment (Esporta Wash Systems) and our own Document Recovery Solutions. These systems allow us to efficiently restore over 85% of soiled goods from anywhere in Canada, significantly reducing what ends up as landfill.
Our transition to a tablet technology allows all project managers across the country to work remotely from the job site, resulting in lessened carbon emissions travelling to and from an office.
When purchasing new vehicles, we focus on options that have environmental benefits such as low carbon emissions and fuel efficiency. Some of our green initiatives include using technologies such as fleet GPS, allowing us to dispatch vehicles to jobs in the most direct and fuel-efficient manner and contributing to a lessened carbon footprint. Our management also stresses greener alternatives such as carpooling, working from home and fewer flights via use of telephone conferences and online web-based meetings.
Our IT department is also at the forefront of our energy saving initiatives. We have removed high powered servers from all of our locations and replaced them with network access storage appliances, which have far lower energy requirements. In turn, our physical datacenter servers were converted to virtual servers, which greatly reduce power requirements and cost. According to our provider, for every one of the approximately 80 servers, we virtualized, customers can save about 7,000 kilowatt hours, or four tons of CO2 emissions, every year.
Targets & Performance
Internal management controls and third- party benchmarks are used to ensure we meet established targets and we review our performance regularly to ensure we are taking the necessary steps to continue to reduce our impact on the environment. These policies and procedures, which serve as a set of guiding principles and practical measures for the company, are administered under the supervision of our Health Safety and Environment (HSE) staff, which provide an annual environmental review and practical measures of success for the company.
FirstOnSite in our communities across the country
Our 1,100 employees across the country have been and are engaged in many local and regional charities and events in the communities where we live.
Some of our Southern Ontario locations are active supporters of Camp McGovern through various fundraising efforts, including the OGI Hockey Tournament and the KW Athlete of the Year. Camp McGovern was originally created to give underprivileged children the opportunity to go to camp, and today over 400 kids have the opportunity to attend each year. The camp only takes children involved in Big Brothers and Big Sisters programs around Ontario and from local United Way member agencies. All revenues go to the development of property and programs, and to subsidize the campers who attend the camp.
On the East Coast our employees and locations have a long history of supporting a variety of local and community events and activities, including:
- Supporting staff members going to work with “Hearts for the Homeless” in Madagascar, Africa
- Open Door Ministries in Charlottetown, PEI
- Covenant House – Canada’s largest youth shelter for homeless youth
- Salvation Army
- Meals on Wheels
- International Needs Network
- Canadian Red Cross
- Crossroads Missions
- Prince County Hospital – Sponsor of their “Malawi Medical Team,” a group that travels abroad to provide health care support to rural communities in Malawi, Africa
- Canadian Council for the Blind
- Canadian Cancer Foundation
- Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
- Canadian Paraplegic Association
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Asthma Research
- Many local sports teams
- Big Lake Camp
- Big Brothers and Big Sisters (Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick)
- Bowl for Kids Sake
- PEI Police Association
- And many more…
Many of our locations also have strong ties to our fire fighters associations and departments across the country.
Our people are our greatest asset, and we are committed to their health, wellbeing and ongoing success. Disaster restoration is a service-based business where we primarily interact with our customers and clients in times of stress and chaos. Customers depend on us not only to restore their property, but oftentimes, to also restore their confidence. We recognize that the work our teams do can be very challenging and strive to foster a strong, values-based culture that value individual’s strengths, attracts those who share our values and offers opportunities to grow within our organization.
Some of our people focused initiates include:
We offer a comprehensive benefits program that includes dental, vision, gym membership discounts, RRSP matching, and paramedical coverage (including naturopaths) as well as access to an independently run employee assistance program.
Employee Engagement Surveys
We conduct annual employee engagement surveys, gather feedback, represent it back to our teams. Most importantly, we take action in the areas of most concerns, and communicate those actions back to our employees to ensure that they know they are being heard.
Employee Relief Fund
Through our corporate owner, we provide access to the FirstService Relief Fund. The fund was established to help our people during times of personal financial hardship related to events including serious illness or injury, death of an immediate family member, losses suffered as a result of a natural disaster, among many other unfortunate scenarios.
Company Ethics Policies and Core Values
Every team member is party to and signatory of our ethics and code of conduct policy, designed to help ensure simply that we treat each other right.
Supporting our ethics policy, we have established Core Values that help support a strong culture where team members feel valued and empowered. The Values also acts as guideposts for decision-making across all roles.
FirstLine Ethics Hotline
Every employee, officer and director of our corporate owner has an ongoing responsibility to report any activity or suspected activity of which he or she may have knowledge relating to the integrity of the Company’s financial reporting or which otherwise might be considered sensitive