Coun­cil­lor calls for chief ’s res­ig­na­tion

Spa­niard’s Bay launch­ing in­quiry into its fire depart­ment

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca

The Town of Spa­niard’s Bay is launch­ing an in­de­pen­dent in­quiry into the town’s fire depart­ment af­ter a coun­cil­lor called for the res­ig­na­tion or dis­missal of the fire chief.

This stems from a mo­tion Deputy Mayor Paul Brazil made at the town’s reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing on Nov. 16 that was ap­proved unan­i­mously to con­sider hu­man re­source firms who could han­dle the job.

The mo­tion came at the end of a lengthy dis­cus­sion re­gard­ing the depart­ment, which saw no fewer than four mo­tions hit the ta­ble. Of those mo­tions, two from Coun. Bre­anda Sey­mour called for the im­me­di­ate dis­missal or sus­pen­sion of Fire Chief Vic­tor His­cock. Both were de­feated by a slim 4-3 mar­gin. Sey­mour is also a mem­ber of the vol­un­teer fire depart­ment.

“Have an HR firm come out, do an in­ves­ti­ga­tion with the pos­si­bil­ity of giv­ing us some di­rec­tion into the sever­ity of the ac­cu­sa­tions made and what ac­tions would be deemed ap­pro­pri­ate to deal with it,” said Brazil. “There are a lot of is­sues here and the fire chief is not re­spon­si­ble to do all of them. He’s re­spon­si­ble to do del­e­ga­tion of du­ties, maybe that is a prob­lem.

“Maybe the work wasn’t be­ing dealt prop­erly and maybe that is why a lot of th­ese de­fi­cien­cies and things not get­ting done are show­ing up on our ta­ble. We need to find out what the root cause of the prob­lem is and then we’ll move on from there.”

Just over five years ago, the town took a sim­i­lar ac­tion and had a re­port sub­mit­ted on the depart­ment. That cost $3,000.

With dozens of fire­fight­ers in at­ten­dance, the air was tense as Coun. Tony Do­minix made a mo­tion that the coun­cil take im­me­di­ate ac­tion in the re-eval­u­a­tion and re-struc­tur­ing of the fire depart­ment.

Sec­onded by Sey­mour, the mo­tion came with a list of rea­sons out­lin­ing why ac­tion is needed. They ranged from the mis­man­age­ment of town property to the fail­ure to en­force a direct or­der from coun­cil. That dealt with the town man­dat­ing the depart­ment to stay away from at­tend­ing to med­i­cal calls un­til they have the proper equip­ment, ad­e­quate train­ing for med­i­cal emer­gen­cies and li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance cov­er­age spe­cific to med­i­cal re­sponse.

Among the more se­ri­ous ac­cu­sa­tions brought up at last week’s coun­cil meet­ing was sex­ual ha­rass­ment. While the ac­cu­sa­tion is be­ing lev­eled at the depart­ment, it orig­i­nates from a train­ing ses­sion held more than two years ago where an of­fi­cer from a neigh­bour­ing depart­ment dis­played a short clip from an adult film once the ses­sion had of­fi­cially con­cluded.

Bay de Grave Fire Chief Jeremy Hall told The Com­pass he han­dled the train­ing ses­sion and has since deleted the clip, which was sent to him via email and less than 30 sec­onds.

When con­tacted by The Com­pass, His­cock said he would re­serve com­ment un­til he has the op­por­tu­nity to speak with coun­cil. He was not present at last week’s coun­cil meet­ing.

Sey­mour and His­cock have clashed in the past. She was sus­pended and sub­se­quently dis­missed from the depart­ment five years ago for al­legedly over­step­ping her bounds on depart­ment mat­ters (she was also a coun­cil­lor at the time). A sub­se­quent study paid for by the town found the dis­ci­pline was un­just.

Men­chions wants to see the re­port fin­ished and in­cor­po­rate in­ter­views with mem­bers of coun­cil, the Fire Chief and mem­bers of the fire depart­ment.

“I just hope we can all work through it,” he said.

“I just hope we can all work through it.” Tony Men­chions

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Spa­niard’s Bay Mayor Tony Men­chions (right) and town man­ager Tony Ryan lis­ten in­tently to the dis­cus­sion at last week’s coun­cil meet­ing.

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