Saturday, 10 July 2010

Hot heads on Council prevail: shooting the messenger

All hell is breaking loose in Muskoka. Or it could. And I was wondering about a topic for today's post...

Muskoka Lakes Fire Chief relieved of Duties ...

9 Jul 2010 ... The Moose has confirmed with Muskoka Lakes Township Volunteer Fire Department spokesperson Ted McNeil that Jim Sawkins was relieved of his duties.

The Powers-That-Be (PTB) have fired the Huntsville Fire Chief, too, in an alleged incident of breaching G8 security.  

Our fabulous volunteer firefighters are working hard to ensure that we are protected. They have pancake breakfasts to raise money for tools and equipment. Really.

I cannot tell you the number of times firefighters do incredible work in difficult conditions and terrain: drownings, plane crashes, on islands, in heavy bush, using heavy equipment (ATVs, snowmobiles, rescue boats) that 'normal' fire departments do not need. I cannot blame the volunteers for holding protests.

From small to large homes, add in 100-year-old cottages,  and multi-million dollar homes, all have high expectations of the the Township of Muskoka Lakes and the District Municipality, to ensure that all of our buildings—from residences, cottages, resorts, and businesses, are well-protected.  I have seen them at work. I have the video to prove it! EMS Rescue Attempt - Bala Falls, Ontario 

What are the PTB thinking? Mayor Ellis wants firefighters to put safety ahead of their concerns. Perhaps Council (PTB) should have thought this through. The volunteers have strong concerns, as does our fired fire chief. "Mayor urges firefighters to put public first"

CAO Schmid calls for 'cooler heads to prevail', according to the paper.

Maybe the pot is calling the kettle black!

They threatened this, the PTB, "A protest by Muskoka Lakes firefighters last month won’t go unanswered, according to township management staff." according to The Banner: Firefighters’ concerns being addressed, says CAO Walt Schmid

This is prime fire season. Citiots continue to ignore daytime fire bans. Those with a leg in the past continue to burn wet leaves. Firefighters respond to all kinds of emergencies. There isn't a Friday that doesn't go by without a siren in my neck of the woods.

The latest three-alarm call in Bala (Fire damages garage in Bala-Cottage Country news) demonstrated our need for quick, dependable services, along a steep winding road, wide enough for only a truck...where a wood stove caused near-by cans of inflammable liquids to explode.

The issues:
  • Budgets were cut by $10,000, despite 24/7 duty during G8, they continue to give of their personal time and energy. 
  • Fire chiefs lobby Parliament for more funding Muskoka Lakes fire chief Jim Sawkins was one of 15 Canadian fire chiefs who lobbied for increased funding for volunteer fire departments in Ottawa last month.

  • The cost for 175 volunteer firefighters equals the cost of 5 full-time firefighters. We need a large number of people to cover large areas of towns, and remote forests.
  • Currently, volunteers get an income tax exemption of $1,000. The fire chiefs had expected that amount to increase to $3,000 in the 2010 federal budget.
  • Muskoka Lakes Township to Investigate Firefighter's Concerns 
How can volunteers have any power over their concerns if Council (PTB) won't listen to firefighters?

Instead of a power struggle the Mayor,  Council and CAO Schmid ought to be addressing concerns. Not making threats and shooting the messenger. It costs money to fight fires.  Cough it up, taxpayers, it's a lot cheaper than increases in the cost of home insurance after a claim. 


Martha Z said...

It sounds like your council has no better sense than does ours here in Lincoln. The issues are different but the arrogance is the same. It is amazing to me that they would risk alienating a volunteer fire department, that seems suicidal.

muskoka chairs said...

So how exactly did he breach G8 Security?

Jenn Jilks said...

I agree, @Martha.

Well, @Muskoka Chairs...'s a secret!

HV Mayor isn't talking.
"Doughty replied in an email response there was “sorry no time” to answer questions or provide any further information on the context of the breach."
Too much time trying for G8 photo ops!

W.C.Camp said...

Yes I was surprised about the G8 thing. The typical petty politics does not surprise me anywhere anymore. I know the volunteers work darn hard. The reality is that they do it because they care for the community and love it. So they are easy to look over in tight budgets. Sad it works that way but no different anywhere.
Love your pics. Wish I had some of those Fire fighter pancakes right about now! W.C.C.