/Minden Hills fire chief resigns
Fire chief Doug Schell centre with members of council at the groundbreaking of the new Minden Hills fire hall this summer.

Minden Hills fire chief resigns

By Chad Ingram

Published Sept. 18 2017

Minden Hills fire chief Doug Schell isresigning.

Schell gave notice to the township lastFriday that he will leave his post Oct. 6.

A member of Minden's volunteer firedepartment for nearly 30 years Schell became its first paid full-time chiefin 2003.

He told the paper he is ready for a change.

“It's a new career opportunity for me”Schell said of his new job as manager of environmental services and plantoperations for Haliburton Highlands Health Services.

He said the role draws on some of hisprevious experience including home inspections and emergency planning.

“After 28 years I've really enjoyedhelping the community out” Schell said. However he said being on call 24/7can also take its toll. He will not be continuing on with the department.

“I'm still going to be helping thecommunity out just in a different way” he said.

Schell paid tribute to the members of thedepartment.

“I have full confidence in the personnel ofthe fire department as it is” he said.

Reeve Brent Devolin wished Schell well inhis new career.

“I'm certainly on a personal levelsaddened but thankful for the 28 years he's put in in Minden Hills” Devolintold the paper. “For Doug and his family I'm very happy for them.”

The reeve said ever-increasing demands onmunicipal politicians and staffers can be stressful.

“Those are pretty hot seats to sit in” hesaid.

As for what will happen next within thefire department Devolin pointed out the township has a deputy-chief and atraining officer as well as a building task force for the new Minden Hillsfire hall currently under construction along Highway 35.

“On all those levels we're in pretty goodshape” Devolin said. “I don't think we're in a position of weakness.”

Whether the township will put out a callfor a new fire chief hire someone from within etc. is a decision thatcouncil will make in the future.

“In the coming weeks and months we'll havethose discussions” Devolin said.

Schell's resignation comes just weeks afterMinden Hills councillors approved a performance appraisal policy for thetownship's volunteer firefighters which will see them evaluated every twoyears by the fire chief.

Council first discussed the concept in Junewith members disagreeing about the appropriateness of initiating performancereviews for firefighters.

At a June 8 committee-of-the-wholemeeting at the request of council Schell had drawn up a report on conductingperformance reviews for firefighters.
It was Schell’s recommendation at the time that council not proceed with such aprocess.
“Personally I don’t see the benefit of this” Schell told councillors. “Theydo give up a lot for the benefit of the community. It’s just adding more stressto the firefighters.”
Council approved the appraisal framework during an Aug. 31 meeting after somechanges to the language in the policy were made including the addition of a“wellness check” dealing with employee job satisfaction growth participationetc.