Deputy fire chief’s workload to platoon chiefs would be “challenging”: chief

A fire truck sits outside the Brookdale Arms apartment complex on Feb. 2, 2015. The city's fire chief says putting the responsibilities of the vacant deputy chief's position on the platoon chiefs would be "challenging" due to union agreements. (Cornwall Newswatch/File)

CORNWALL – A report before Cornwall’s budget committee Friday says delegating the deputy fire chief’s responsibilities on the four platoon chiefs would be “challenging.”

The Cornwall deputy fire chief’s position has been largely vacant since October 2013 when Rob Hickley submitted his letter of resignation. Gilles Crepeau, now the South Stormont fire chief, briefly held the position in the spring and summer of 2014.

In his report to be reviewed by the committee Friday, Chief Richard McCullough says, under union rules, the chief and deputy chief have “exclusive function” of managing the affairs of the fire department.

The report goes on to list 29 different responsibilities for the deputy chief, including preparing fire department policy and conducting employee reviews.

“The Platoon Chiefs duties are limited as they form part of the Association’s collective agreement. As an Association member, clearly they cannot perform management, supervisory, or functions involving negotiations or personnel matters,” McCullough writes.

The chief says the only way it would happen is to amend the collective agreement.

Since Hickley’s resignation, McCullough has been picking up a large part of the deputy chief’s duties but McCullough says it’s not feasible to maintain the current setup permanently.

Right now, the only time the platoon chiefs are responsible for management duties is if the chief is on vacation and they are only responsible for duties related to responding to emergencies and they receive no extra pay for the extra work.

The fire department has four vacancies – four firefighters and a deputy chief – with a pending fifth as McCullough has announced his retirement.

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