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Plan to restructure fire command gets green light from council

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By Chris Must
chris@pdgmedia.ca

Smiths Falls councillors have been assured that a plan to replace a retiring fire captain with three lieutenants won’t result in any significant increase in fire protection costs.

At a regular meeting of town council Monday, Nov. 7, Fire Chief Normand Beauchamp explained that Capt. Richard Laming has retired. Instead of appointing a new captain, Beauchamp said he intends to put three lieutenants in supervisory roles. One lieutenant will be responsible for fire prevention, another for logistics (vehicles, equipment and scheduling), and another for training and health and safety. The position of captain will be eliminated.

Councillors asked for more time to ask questions and think about the plan before amending a town bylaw to allow the restructuring to take place. At a meeting of council’s Committee of the Whole Monday, Nov. 14, which the fire chief was unable to attending, Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Morris said having three lieutenants in addition to the chief would bring the fire department in line with government standards for “span of control” calling for one officer for every seven firefighters. In response to questions, he also stated that the lieutenants must be full-time firefighters rather than volunteers, to ensure they are available at all times.

“It’s management’s right to structure the department as they see fit,” said Morris. “It just requires a bylaw to enshrine this.”

Morris said the restructuring is cost neutral because “We’re not replacing the captain position,” which is higher paid.

The bylaw amendment will be voted on at the next regular council meeting.

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Plan to restructure fire command gets green light from council

smiths-falls-fire1-230x306

By Chris Must
chris@pdgmedia.ca

Smiths Falls councillors have been assured that a plan to replace a retiring fire captain with three lieutenants won’t result in any significant increase in fire protection costs.

At a regular meeting of town council Monday, Nov. 7, Fire Chief Normand Beauchamp explained that Capt. Richard Laming has retired. Instead of appointing a new captain, Beauchamp said he intends to put three lieutenants in supervisory roles. One lieutenant will be responsible for fire prevention, another for logistics (vehicles, equipment and scheduling), and another for training and health and safety. The position of captain will be eliminated.

Councillors asked for more time to ask questions and think about the plan before amending a town bylaw to allow the restructuring to take place. At a meeting of council’s Committee of the Whole Monday, Nov. 14, which the fire chief was unable to attending, Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Morris said having three lieutenants in addition to the chief would bring the fire department in line with government standards for “span of control” calling for one officer for every seven firefighters. In response to questions, he also stated that the lieutenants must be full-time firefighters rather than volunteers, to ensure they are available at all times.

“It’s management’s right to structure the department as they see fit,” said Morris. “It just requires a bylaw to enshrine this.”

Morris said the restructuring is cost neutral because “We’re not replacing the captain position,” which is higher paid.

The bylaw amendment will be voted on at the next regular council meeting.

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