/Council revises firefighter review

Council revises firefighter review

By Chad Ingram

Published July 6 2017

Minden Hills township will revise a proposed review process for its volunteer firefighters.

During a June 8 committee-of-the-whole meeting there was disagreement amongst councillors about instituting performance reviews for members of the township’s volunteer fire department.

Fire chief Doug Schell recommended against such a practice.

“Personally I don’t see the benefit of this” Schell told councillors at that meeting. “They do give up a lot for the benefit of the community. It’s just adding more stress to the firefighters.”

Members of the fire department already have their skills evaluated by the township’s fire training officer.

Township chief administrative officer Lorrie Blanchard had been absent from the June 8 meeting and the matter was deferred until Blanchard was present to answer questions.

During a June 29 council meeting Blanchard said the term “performance review” may be outdated and explained the process being proposed would not be the same as the formal review process that full-time staff members go through.

Even during those reviews Blanchard said the focus is more on how the individual is doing.

“I try to spend the bulk of the time talking about the person . . . I guess you could call it a wellness check or a check-in or a chat . . . . however you want to look at it” she said. “So I guess I think it’s important that council try to look at this more from that perspective.”

Minden Hills township also recently adopted a policy on post-traumatic stress disorder and Blanchard said the review process would also deal with mental health.

Firefighters’ technical skills will continue to be assessed by the township’s training officer.

“I don’t want council to think that this was going to look exactly like what we do with other staff” Blanchard said.

While a draft performance review form had been drawn up a revised policy for firefighter reviews will come back to the council table.