Show firefighters loyalty

Recently, the scrapping of the firefighter hiring list was reported, but that may only be the tip of the iceberg. I’m more concerned that retirements aren’t being replaced.

Brian Kelly reported that recruit list was nixed by Sault Ste. Marie’s new fire chief, Mike Figliola. This prompted a negative reaction from former fire chief Marcel Provenzano . Columnist Doug Millroy then opined that the list is the new chief’s responsibility, while acknowledging why Provenzano might be upset since his word was broken.

Millroy landed on agreeing with the mayor who said that the retired chief was in no position to promise anyone a job. Millroy suggested that if Provenzano wanted those people to get a job, he should have hired them before he retired, or he should have penned a document to bind the fire service to the list.

I firmly disagree with the gents on this issue.

If Provenzano had any idea that Figliola would come in and make such changes he surely would have penned a binding document, to hire the people on the list. But why should Provenzano be faulted for not foretelling that a long standing tradition would be scrapped on a whim?

Tradition and loyalty are part of the firefighter’s world. As Millroy points out, our word is our bond; and this goes for firemen in spades. They say they will do something and they do it. They say they will raise money for a MD; it gets done. Help load trucks at Christmas Cheer; there they are. Host a charity hockey tournament to fund community initiatives; done.

Why not turn the tables on the current chief and ask what good reasons exist to ignore these good candidates? Just because the list is four years old doesn’t mean it isn’t an excellent list. If we want to keep turnover down, hiring firefighters from this community makes more sense than hiring them from away. Buy local; hire local: keep the money in the community.

Kelly stated that the union president said that the recruits were frustrated. I think that is a kind understatement. I would bet recruits at the top probably even turned down other jobs as they thought their hire was imminent. That is more than frustrating.

A cynic could say that these recruits shouldn’t have expected to be hired. A person with more of a concept of fairness and loyalty might say they are due something; if nothing else a sincere thank you for their dedication towards becoming firefighters. That said, I agree strongly with Millroy, that at a VERY MINIMUM; candidates at the top of that list should be giving hiring priority once they jump through the new OFA testing hoops set out by the new chief.

It pains me to know that in Kelly’s article, the Union put in a plea with Figliola to keep the list, but it was rejected. Firefighters protect each other, it’s what they do to stay alive and keep the community safe too. I would have hoped that the chief would take note that the people on that list have already passed an even more important test in addition to the skills-based ones. The brotherhood has already accepted them.

In addition to scrapping the list, my bigger concern is that according to Kelly’s article, five firefighters have retired and have not been replaced recently. This puts current firefighters in a position of having to take on a lot of overtime. I understand that the new chief will do a staffing review in October, and that his goal is to save the city money, but surely he could start by hiring at least one firefighter right now; they are down five!

We don’t want our firefighters run-down because they are taking on excessive overtime. These are the guys we ask to put their lives on the line for us. They are the running into burning buildings or flood conditions; saving people, pets, and minimizing property damage. Reported in the Sault Star in August alone, they revived people at the scene of accidents, and evacuated people from a burning apartment who were screaming from their balconies. Hundreds of other calls go unreported.

Let’s make sure our firefighters aren’t spent. Let’s show them some loyalty.

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