First two Cornwall firefighters could be hired in a couple weeks

Cornwall Human Resources Director Geoff Clarke. (Cornwall Newswatch/File)

CORNWALL – Two of the four positions to be filled on the Cornwall Fire Department could be filled within a couple weeks.

Cornwall’s Human Resources Director, Geoff Clarke, told Cornwall Newswatch Monday there are two applicants still left from a first pool of successful applicants in the fall.

“We had a batch (of candidates)…we had run a hiring process. We had four people selected from that pool. As the retirements have happened we’ve been pulling from it. So we have two more in that initial pool that the chief and deputy will now…talk about getting on,” Clarke said.

“There’s two we’re going to draw from right away…depending on availability for all involved and our ability to put them through their training,” the HR manager added.

Clarke explained there is a second pool of five qualified applicants, who were chosen before Fire Chief Pierre Voisine and Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Donig took their respective positions.

The HR manager indicted he had been approached by the chief and deputy chief shortly after Monday’s meeting about how quickly the process could be run and how the second pool of candidates would be handled. All parties were expected to talk Tuesday.

On Monday, Cornwall city council endorsed Fire Chief Pierre Voisine’s request to expedite the hiring of four firefighters. The positions were budgeted for but had not been filled until a Fire Master Plan was tabled, which also happened that night. The rest of the plan will be discussed by councillors in September.

Glad about expedited hiring, better relationship: CPFFA

The head of the local firefighters’ union is glad the hiring got expedited.

“It needs to happen. It’s putting a lot of stress on the system,” Cornwall Professional Firefighter’s Association President Jason Crites told Cornwall Newswatch, referencing the 57-hour workweek many of his employees are facing right now.

Not only do the hours add up but it’s also inhibiting a lot of other firefighter duties, Crites said.

“Every delay backs it up,” indicating that the new hires will have to go through training that’s going to take some time.

“It’s all good. At the end of the day it doesn’t cost any money. It’s just a better way of operating,” the local union president said.

The relationship and lines of communication between the fire chief and the union have been better, Crites said. “There’s lots of give and take and the relationship is much, much different than the previous fire chief. We weren’t on particularly good terms. It’s been nothing but great since Pierre (Voisine) has come in,” he said.

“Everybody recognizes that the place (the fire service) needs attention and it’s going to require everybody to be team players and want to work together and lots of give and take. He gets that. We get that. I’m pretty hopeful things are going to go well here.”

“It’s on much better terms. I think that’s everybody making a conscientious effort to get along. It’s his (Pierre Voisine) style too and he’s got very good people skills. He’s very confident and that helps. The guy’s love him so far. What we’ve seen we certainly couldn’t get happier. It’s encouraging.”

“We know nobody’s happy with the way the place is running or has run. At the end of the day everybody wants a high functioning, efficient fire department. There’s always going to be that friction about how much we’re paid. If we can focus on (the high functioning, efficient fire department) that, if we have a good relationship, those things will be better too,” Crites said.

Both sides are set to go to present their case for a new collective agreement to a board of arbitration in September.

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