The chal­lenges and re­wards of a part-time depart­ment

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News -

BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL

News Staff South Glen­garry Fire Ser­vices Chief Vic Ler­oux has been im­pressed by what he’s seen from both his per­son­nel and their in­ter­ac­tion with the com­mu­nity since tak­ing over the po­si­tion last sum­mer.

“The best el­e­ment of this past year has been the op­por­tu­nity to work to­gether with the mem­bers of the ser­vice, town­ship staff, coun­cil and town­ship res­i­dents,” Chief Ler­oux, a long­time Wil­liamstown res­i­dent, told The News re­cently.

“The sup­port that the depart­ment has in this com­mu­nity is tremen­dous... over­whelm­ing, re­ally.”

Mr. Ler­oux was ap­pointed town­ship fire chief in June 2014 – re­plac­ing the re­tired chief, Harold Har­vey – fol­low­ing a more than five-year re­tire­ment from the Cornwall Fire Depart­ment.

He had 30 years of ser­vice with the Se­away City depart­ment, and was chief there from May 2007 to De­cem­ber 2008, as well as deputy-chief for two years prior to that.

A Cornwall na­tive, Mr. Ler­oux be­gan his fire ser­vices ca­reer as a pro­ba­tion­ary city fire­fighter be­fore climb­ing the ranks to even­tu­ally be­come chief.

He said mak­ing the switch from the city fire ser­vice to the town­ship depart­ment wasn’t all that dif­fi­cult.

“It was ac­tu­ally a very smooth tran­si­tion, for the most part, be­cause I’ve lived in this com­mu­nity for well over 20 years and I was very fa­mil­iar with what the South Glen­garry Fire Ser­vice had to of­fer, as far as the men, and equip­ment,” Chief Ler­oux ex­plained.

“And that made com­ing to work an easy task.”

How­ever, he con­cedes that lead­ing a slightly smaller, non­full-time fire depart­ment – whose mem­bers he refers to as “part-time fire­fight­ers” in­stead of vol­un­tary, “be­cause we all work un­der the same leg­is­la­tion as pro­fes­sional, full-time ca­reer fire­fight­ers”– does have its chal­lenges, par­tic­u­larly from a fi­nan­cial stand­point.

“We have to pro­vide pro­fes­sional, full-time-like ser­vice, with a part-time bud­get, and that’s not al­ways an easy thing to do...due to the eco­nom­ics and the is­sues that we face be­cause of our ju­ris­dic­tions, our de­mo­graph­ics and the tax base,” said the chief.

“And those are dif­fi­cul­ties that all vol­un­teer fire ser­vices are faced with on a day-to-day ba­sis.”

Nonethe­less, Chief Ler­oux knows the pros of ad­min­is­trat­ing the South Glen­garry Fire Ser­vice far out­weigh the cons.

“This is a very com­mu­ni­ty­minded group, and that makes my job very re­ward­ing, and fun,” he said.

The South Glen­garry Fire Ser­vice con­sists of ap­prox­i­mately 125 men and women at five sta­tions – in Glen Wal­ter (Sta­tion #1), Mart­in­town (#2), Wil­liamstown (#3), Lan­caster (#4) and North Lan­caster (#5), re­spec­tively – whose ter­ri­tory cov­ers roughly 296,000 acres (al­most 120,000 hectares), or 605 square kilo­me­tres.

It serves a pop­u­la­tion of more than 12,300 res­i­dents, and had a com­bined cap­i­tal and op­er­at­ing bud­get of $1.1 mil­lion in 2014.

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