New job created to manage West Hants fire services project

Carole Morris-Underhill
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On a motion made by Deputy Warden Gary Cochrane, far left, West Hants councillors voted 6-3 in favour of severing ties with the Windsor Fire Department.

West Hants' former fire services co-ordinator may soon be back in business with the municipality.

At council's most recent meeting, Coun. Randy Matheson lobbied to create a new job to support the municipality in its efforts to part ways with the Windsor Fire Department.

After telling council he would vote in favour of ending the long-standing relationship with the WFD, Matheson said they would need to hire someone as soon as possible to aid in the transition.

“I think that we have to support the motion and we should make a motion that Mr. Swinamer be hired back on and... get to the business at hand,” he said.

Matheson was referring to Wayne Swinamer, a former Windsor firefighter who was hired by the municipality in 2012 as the municipality's fire services co-ordinator. Four candidates were interviewed for the role, with CAO Cheryl Chislett noting in February 2012 that Swinamer was the successful candidate.

Once hired, Swinamer was instructed to prepare a report to examine the costs associated with building their own fire station to service the area covered by the WFD.

The study was first presented in January 2013. The initial versions of the report suggested the municipality would see significant cost savings if they created their own fire department, though the exact figure fluctuated. It was in this report that construction of a fire station in Garlands Crossing was proposed, as well as future consideration be given for constructing a substation in Falmouth.

Swinamer finished his contracted position, which had been previously extended from one year, in the fall of 2013.

At the most recent council meeting of May 13, Matheson first made a motion to have the warden “take whatever steps are necessary to inform the public as to why council has chosen to create a new fire service.” This would include hiring a publicist, taking out advertisements and writing letters to the editor. That motion passed with three councillors voting nay. He then lobbied to have Swinamer hired back on.

“I'll make a motion that we hire Wayne Swinamer to supervise the creation of a new fire service,” Matheson said, to which several councillors objected, noting only the CAO can recommend to council that they hire a specific person — and only after a competition for the job is held.

Matheson suggested the fire services co-ordinator role be immediately budgeted for and that the CAO begin the search for a qualified candidate.

By budgeting for the position, Matheson said it makes it “a fait accompli — that it will be in the budget because you can't do without it.”

Coun. Victor Swinamer was opposed to the possible re-hiring of Wayne Swinamer.

“You can't have internal people do a study. You'd never, ever get an accurate report,” he said. “You need to have the report done by people that have no stake in the outcome of the study... You can't use people connected to the process.”

While some questions and concerns were raised about the new position, including whether it was really necessary to create the job, the motion passed, with the same three councillors (Mike Campbell, Jennifer Daniels, and Victor Swinamer) voting against.


Organizations: Windsor Fire Department, West Hants council

Geographic location: Windsor, Falmouth, West Hants Hants County Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Awsome
    May 20, 2014 - 17:41

    So "RA", do you feel this way about WFD because you used to be a member and were either removed from the membership or suspended and are now holding a grudge?

    • Frank Smith
      May 21, 2014 - 08:37

      Perfect response!

    • Annie Rose
      May 21, 2014 - 11:03

      Resignations seem to be the exit of choice in the face of overwhelming humiliation. So when are certain members of council going to follow suite.

    • Brian Boyd
      May 21, 2014 - 17:12

      RA, for someone as vocal and opinionated as you are, why don't you start posting with your actual name. Or is there a reason you don't want anyone knowing who you really are?

  • Come from Away
    May 20, 2014 - 16:24

    "They are in for a big fight". Newsflash! These two municipal units have been fighting over this for years, and every thing else. Everything in Windsor becomes "a big fight". The Town has a reputation for it. Apparently this tradition continues. There is no repairing this relationship now over this issue. It's gone too far on both sides. Other people who support this are too scared to speak for fear of the repercussions because of the enormous grudges certain people have. The outcome is not what you want, so "it's wrong". I hear this all the time. And what about your own agenda? What makes your opinion any more correct than any one of those elected councillors who voted to support it? And it will be paid for by the money they normally pay for WFD services. Clearly with this much animosity towards them, West Hants is doing the right thing. Even if it turns out to be the wrong thing, it certainly won't be the first mistake by any government. What makes this one so different? Both municipal units have other important business to attend to, not play this same record over and over again. Why not just agree to disagree and move on? If there is a willingness to work together, find something more productive and positive to work on. A new arena might be a place to start. More people might come from away then.

  • Trevor
    May 19, 2014 - 17:41

    **They are preaching financial responsibility for the good of the taxpayers. How long will it take to pay off the capital costs to build a new fire service? How much is it going to cost to maintain this service? This has tax increase written all over it. Our money can be put to better use. We have to get rid of this council and their personal agendas. There should have been a plebiscite for such a vital issue as this, instead of 6 councillors making such a one sided decision. Tell everyone you know to attend the council meetings and make your voices heard! **Sentence modified to comply with web commenting policy

  • jack
    May 19, 2014 - 15:32

    What are you smoking Matheson. Someone is lining their pockets with this foolishness....

    • Annie Rose
      May 19, 2014 - 16:08

      Is that experience talking jack ...?

  • Annie Rose
    May 19, 2014 - 14:34

    So I wonder if there will be a junior fire fighter cadet core open to all our young ladies and gentlemen. Wonder who will be heading that up if it happens.

  • Douglas
    May 19, 2014 - 12:55

    I don't know the whole story. But in reading this, if you build a new fire station, approximately 10,000 square feet with 5 bays and a community hall you are looking about $3 million and that is before any equipment and apparatus are put in. Trucks run between 3 - 4 hundred thousand for a 1250 pumper with an 800 gallon tank. Tankers are around 2-3 hundred thousand and hold from 1500-3000 gallons of water.

    • Ryan
      May 19, 2014 - 18:42

      The bigger question is whether they'll have the manpower to actually run all this equipment.

  • RA
    May 19, 2014 - 11:41

    The Councillors are acting in our best interests in order to save us money and provide better service. If WFD didn’t over charge for services all of these years, we wouldn’t have this issue. West Hants will be better served with their own fire stations. I for one will join my station, I’m less than a minute away from the proposed site. With the quicker response times from stations in our own communities, more lives and property may be saved. Rejoice in this great advancement West Hants.

    • Oh joy
      May 19, 2014 - 12:34

      Fear not, for RA will save us all! The way things work now is best. A centralized department is what this area needs and has had. If the problem is payment and $$$ they could've went into negotiations with Windsor Fire Department like WFD has requested to do numerous times now. They have declined that invitation every single time and because of that leads me to believe there is much more to this than a financial issue. Right now there are days when WFD has delayed responses due to the amount of people working in the city/out west etc and if you divide that number into one or two new stations you will have no trucks on the road. As a firefighter this saddens me as WFD provides some of the best service in the area and with the Mutual Aid system in place we have no need for these new stations. This is a huge hit to the brotherhood. Disappointed in this area's council, can't wait to leave and find somewhere where the councilors care about their citizens.

    • Ryan
      May 19, 2014 - 18:58

      That last little bit of your comment is pretty bold considering this new department hasn't even started to be built yet. I'm not sure how a Dept that doesn't even exist is already going to provide a better service than a Dept that is well trained and been doing this for a while. I'm also interested to know how you can guarantee quicker response times when you don't even have a membership yet. How many people will you have immediately available during the day time for calls. Considering large depts in larger towns can have issues getting a lot of people out to day time calls I fail to see how your new station will be able to assure quicker responses unless A) nobody in the dept has a job or B) every single person works in the immediate area and will be able to leave work all the time. I wonder how often you will rely on the departments like Windsor to come bail you out when you can't get enough people out to calls. I'm gonna watch this closely.

    • Ryan
      May 19, 2014 - 21:20

      Pretty bold thing to say before your department has even been formed. WH will be better served? That will be seen over time but I have no doubt the very people you seem to want to get rid of will be bailing you out on a regular basis for quite a while. Judging by the amount of comments against this decision I don't think the councilors are looking out for what the residents really want.

    • HA
      May 20, 2014 - 08:37

      RA, in one sentence you're saying the WFD county volunteers will be welcome in "your" new station and in another you say "your" department will have quicker response times and able to save more lives and property. Basically your putting down the volunteers already in place saying they can't do a good enough job and "your" imaginary department can do better. I for one am going to take that as you saying we're not good enough for "your" new department so I for one will be staying put. I am a proud Hants County firefighter and proud to be serving with the more than exceptional department that is WFD.

    • Randy Hussey
      May 20, 2014 - 11:19

      The councillors are Not acting in our best interests. The is plain and simple a personality conflict. The receipts, the unpaid bill, the paid chief are all issues that can be resolved if council was interested in doing so. They have had their own agenda right from the start. I knew it was a waste of time gong to meeting because they were going to do what they were going to do and the rest of us be dammed. This council doesn't care what the voters want or think, they have been poisoned against WFD and the town for years and will refuse to work with anyone. I see that now. At one time they did a good job, now they are hurting everyone with the attitudes, and it's not just about the WFD. With this latest round they have now woken the sleeping giant. They are in for a massive fight.

  • Seriously?
    May 19, 2014 - 11:28

    Oh good job again guys. No conflicts there at all. This whole thing is making a joke of our municipality, seriously.** You guys are really just doing whatever you want at this point. **Sentence modified to comply with web commenting policy

  • Sean
    May 19, 2014 - 10:17

    This is just stupid. So now they want to waste money, tax payer money.** Do I guess this is their idea of job creation? This makes me so friggen mad and is just crap. **Modified to comply with web commenting policy

  • Dave Morrison
    May 19, 2014 - 09:55

    The circus continues!! Now the BAND of SIX are going to waste more taxpayer money by hiring a coordinator, a publicist and purchasing advertisements to promote "their unnecessary fire department(s).". Good ideas do not need to be promoted; they promote themselves. It is obvious the majority of council has lost our confidence and should resign.

  • Gary
    May 19, 2014 - 09:55

    Stupidest thing I ever heard! Windsor Fire Department has the BEST services barr NONE!! Yes Windsor will loose the best Fire Department if this continues.

  • Jacques Lemieux
    May 19, 2014 - 08:05

    Mr. Victor Swinamer is right.