Union lashes out at fire ser­vice man­age­ment


SYD­NEY — The union rep­re­sent­ing fire­fight­ers in the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Fire Ser­vice is plan­ning to deal di­rectly with coun­cil, and ig­nore man­age­ment, when it comes to de­cid­ing on the num­ber of fire sta­tions re­quired to pro­tect the Syd­ney area.

Jody Wrathall, pres­i­dent of the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity Fire­fight­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion Lo­cal 2779, said in an email to the mayor and coun­cil­lors that the union has “lost all con­fi­dence” in the fire ser­vice’s man­age­ment.

He high­lighted man­age­ment’s es­ti­ma­tion of costs re­quired to re­pair the three fire sta­tions — Cen­tral, Ashby and Whit­ney Pier — “by lump­ing all costs for up­grad­ing build­ings into one fig­ure when some of the up­grades are not re­quired for years.”

The Ashby fire sta­tion has re­mained closed since Septem­ber when mould was dis­cov­ered in the base­ment. It’s es­ti­mated the 60year-old build­ing will need $350,000, in­clud­ing a new roof, which Wrathall said still has five years re­main­ing on its life­span.

“If you’re a home­owner and your roof has got five years left, you’re not go­ing to do it to­day or next year. You may do it in year three or four. But they’re bal­loon­ing the costs up,” Wrathall told the Cape Bre­ton Post, Mon­day.

The fire­fight­ers’ union wants coun­cil to in­ves­ti­gate the ac­tual cost and work re­quired to re­open the Ashby sta­tion. He said the union is no longer co-op­er­at­ing with man­age­ment due to “cred­i­bil­ity is­sues.”

“It is our opin­ion that fire ser­vice man­age­ment is de­lay­ing in­for­ma­tion to coun­cil to try and demon­strate that a two-sta­tion sce­nario (Cen­tral and Whit­ney Pier) can now work,” Wrathall wrote in the email sent to coun­cil last week.

The union has said any­thing less than the cur­rent three fire sta­tions would jeop­ar­dize pub­lic safety.

The fire ser­vice is re­view­ing all fire sta­tions to de­ter­mine the most cost-ef­fec­tive way to de­liver the fire ser­vice. A re­port due at a pro­tec­tive ser­vices com­mit­tee meet­ing in March will likely out­line the costs of ren­o­vat­ing the three Syd­ney fire sta­tions, re­build­ing them from the ground up and con­struct­ing one cen­tral­ized multi-mil­lion dol­lar fa­cil­ity in Syd­ney.

CBRM fire ser­vice di­rec­tor Bernie MacK­in­non said man­age­ment has been looking for the union’s in­put into the needs anal­y­sis study be­fore it heads to com­mit­tee, but so far the union hasn’t shown any signs it wants to co­op­er­ate.

“We are hav­ing dif­fi­culty get­ting them to be­come in­volved,” MacK­in­non said.

“They sim­ply don’t want to be part of it. We’ve asked them on more than one oc­ca­sion ... and we’re go­ing to be ap­proach­ing them again to get a han­dle on what’s go­ing on.”

By deal­ing di­rectly with coun­cil, without man­age­ment in­put, MacK­in­non sug­gested the union’s strat­egy is to “con­quer and di­vide.”

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