City short on experience for fire chief interviews: Rivette

City short on experience for fire chief interviews: Rivette
A Cornwall fire truck is parked at the new low-level bridge while officials investigate a gas leak.

CORNWALL, Ontario – Interviews will begin today for the soon-to-be vacant fire chief’s position in Cornwall – but one city councillor thinks more expertise is needed to find a suitable candidate.

Coun. Andre Rivette said in an interview he is disappointed that persons with more expertise in fighting fires, and running such a department, are not interviewing candidates.

Instead interviews are being done by human resources manager Geoff Clarke and finance manager Maureen Adams, Rivette said.

“When we hired the police chief we had a retired chief from Halton come in and help us,” he said. “We should call the fire marshal’s office and ask them to send someone to help us.

“That’s the kind of stuff we need.”

Rivette suggested Clarke, who only recently assumed his new role after some time in the private sector, could use some help for interviewing candidates specific to fire fighting. He added while Adams is a strong finance manager and enjoys universal respect at city hall, she has limited experience when it comes to the fire department.

Rivette believes as many as five people are being interviewed to replace outgoing fire chief Rick McCullough. He wanted the process delayed until more experienced people could take part in the hiring process, but was told it might be too late as interviews have been scheduled.

Rivette is also miffed because it appears changes are looming to the personnel committee – a collection of councillors that often acted in an oversight capacity when it came to hiring and monitoring the work done by senior managers within the corporation.

Rivette and councillors Bernadette Clement, Claude McIntosh and Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy sit on that committee, which could become responsible for the CAO position solely, the only position that directly reports to city council, instead of other positions as well.

Rivette says such a move is a mistake, and points to the hiring of a new fire chief as an example where council oversight could add to the process.

“The two people they have in there now interviewing have no fire background,” he said. “We’re the liaison between council and the human resources department.”

Coun. David Murphy said the city’s lay appointments committee is meeting in the next few weeks to review not only the personnel committee, but the city’s land acquisition committee too.

Members of the land acquisition committee interact with the federal government, as an example, when the feds have surplus land available. The committee reaches out in the event the city is interested in the property.

Some believe city council as a whole should be doing the talking on behalf of the city, but Murphy suggested in an interview the federal government might not operate that way.

“We will be reviewing the land acquisition committee’s term of reference,” he said.

Also on the chopping block of city committees is the infamous goose-control committee that looked at the poop problem in Lamoureux Park.

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