News Local

Renfrew not running from the fire, sticks to decision to can 61-year-old chief

By Tom Spears, Postmedia Network

Outgoing fire chief Guy Longtin

Outgoing fire chief Guy Longtin

RENFREW - The Town of Renfrew is sticking to its guns and forcing its 61-year-old fire chief to retire against his will, saying he's too old to take command at a fire scene.
Regular firefighters have to retire by age 60 in Ontario, as the law considers that they may not have the required stamina as they get older.
But outgoing chief Guy Longtin, a 26-year veteran as Renfrew's chief, says that rule doesn't apply to chiefs, whose role is administrative.
Yes it does, says the town.
Lawyers are busy advising both sides. Longtin's lawyer gave the town a deadline of high noon Friday to apologize and give Longtin his job back.
But as noon passed, the town's human resources committee was still meeting.
The town reeve emerged later to say the town is still going about the process of recruiting a new chief, and that the decision is final.
Reeve Peter Emon said that in a small fire department like Renfrew's, even the chief may be called to take command at a fire scene or other major emergency.
"The case law around front-line firefighters also addresses people who have incident-command responsibilities," he said in an interview. "A small department like ours, there's a likelihood that the chief would be incident command. He is directing staff.
"We are going to honour our contractual (obligations) and obligations under statute as well. We feel comfortable that we have followed the applicable Canadian and Ontario laws."
Asked how the town would react if Longtin sues, he said, "That's his prerogative. ... If someone has a mindset that they are going to proceed to court, it is not our duty to dissuade them."
The committee that met Friday morning has three members. The full town council has seven.
Longtin's lawyer said in a letter to council that Longtin had no advance warning of his impending termination, and that his firing is “a serious and offensive affront to every older worker in the province.”
The lawyer, Bruce Savigny, could not be reached Friday.
Longtin announced on Facebook that, "It is my intention to hold the Town of Renfrew, and its responsible decision-makers, fully accountable for their illegal actions. In moving forward with this case, it is my intention to speak not only for myself, but for other older workers across the province, who deserve to be judged by the quality of their workplace contributions, not simply by the numbers on their birth certificates.”

Featured Businesses

Go to the Marketplace »