Gloves need to come off: Windsor fire chief

Carole Morris-Underhill
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Windsor Fire Chief Scott Burgess says the volunteer firefighters just want to have the issues between the WFD and West Hants council settled so they may continue to serve the community.

Windsor's fire chief says the volunteer firefighting force has had just about enough of West Hants council's antics.

While scrubbing down cars as part of a Relay for Life fundraiser on the weekend, Fire Chief Scott Burgess said the latest move by council has deeply upset the Windsor Fire Department's membership.

“Basically, this has driven our people closer together to stand their ground to say 'enough is enough, this is foolish,'” said Burgess.

“It's actually helping morale at this point because it is crazy to do this.”

Last week, with a 6-3 vote, council approved severing ties with the WFD in favour of creating a stand-alone fire service for the areas currently receiving fire protection coverage by Windsor.

The WFD has been in a very public contract battle with West Hants council for about four years. In April 2013, West Hants abruptly changed how they would fund the WFD, requiring the non-profit society to immediately begin producing receipts before they could receive payment for their services. Prior to the change, the department received quarterly lump sum payments. The change, which did not affect any of the other fire stations serving West Hants, has resulted in Windsor not receiving a dime in funding. However, the WFD hasn't produced the required receipts.

Due to integrated accounting methods, Burgess says the WFD executive just needs the chance to work with municipal staff to resolve the receipts issue.

“We've offered their staff, the CAO and financial director, (an opportunity) to come in and sit with us and go through our accounting system. No issue,” said Burgess.

“What we're not going to buy into is an itemized list for council to micromanage for if we're buying rubber boots or if we're buying hose,” he continued, noting providing a detailed list is not how a third party service provider conducts business.

“We provide a service for a bulk, lump sum price — the same as their policing, the same as their waste management — and that's what we stand by.”

It's estimated nearly $700,000 is owed to the WFD for Station 1 and the substation in Vaughan.

In light of not being paid and council's most recent motion, the chief said the fire department has received a number of calls urging them to terminate the service they provide.

“It's the end of the rope. Our firefighters have had enough of the false allegations, the finger pointing, the untruths. We have facts to back up every statement that has ever been made against us, we just have not taken that low road in the media to basically blow them out of the water,” said Burgess.

The chief said the decision to give notice will need to be made by the entire membership.

He noted that the firefighters, many of whom are county residents, are simply fed up with the unresolved issue.

“Basically, all gloves are off. We're more or less done with it.”


Organizations: Windsor Fire Department, West Hants council

Geographic location: Windsor, Hants, Vaughan West Hants Hants County Falmouth Three Mile Plains Windsor Fire Department

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Recent comments

  • Lets get the Facts
    May 20, 2014 - 21:45

    **I believe the reason the WFD does not want to produce receipts is because the Chief's salary will be disclosed. Why does Windsor have a paid chief and no other fire dept in Hants West does.. Windsor is the only town in NS that has a paid fire chief. **Sentence modified to comply with web commenting policy

    • Ryan
      May 21, 2014 - 16:36

      Really? I'm pretty sure Yarmouth, Truro and Amherst all have paid fire chiefs. Kentville had one and I'm not sure about New Glasgow but they have 8 full time drivers on their dept and in my experience dept's with full time staff generally have a paid Chief. The other dept's in Hants county don't have 2 stations, 11 trucks, 70+ members or the call volume Windsor has either. I'm pretty sure if you look around you can find the Chiefs salary.

    • Oh Joy
      May 21, 2014 - 20:23

      So you're telling me West Hants would put my family at risk over someone's salary. There are better ways to do this rather than ruining a brotherhood of firefighters and allowing greed from neighboring departments drive firefighters away from each other. This is child's play. PS - Truro Fire - 300-350 calls a year, MOSTLY fire alarms has 11 paid staff and a paid chief. Hmmmmm?

  • Judy Orde
    May 20, 2014 - 17:17

    This fiasco has become an embarrasment to our municipality and town. It's become another (Rob Ford .mayor of Toronto) episode. Let' get control of ourselves (both sides) . If this is a frud between individuals then let' set up a boxing ring, advertise, sell tickets and let them duke it out. We could make enough money to help pay our taxes that will surely rise if 2 firestations are to be built. God forbid that there is a fire and someone loses their life while this foolishness is going on. WFD has always been on the ball no matter what the problem, bad weather, shortage of firemen or need for money to be paid, and the list goes on and on. Council has to realize we voted them in to speak for us not for their own purpose. Come on life is too short for this foolishnes. !!!!!!Please everyone act like adults not kids fighting over toys in a sand box.

  • John
    May 20, 2014 - 11:55

    I do believe it I am correct, that the issue is between Windsor and West Hants. Not WFD and West Hants. I think WFD should step back from talking to media all the time with his options and let the two governments handle this in a professional manner instead of stirring the pot with all his comments. You don't see this coming from the two MAIN parties. You are misleading the public when you state you can't show what your cost are. You can, you just don't want to because you feel you shouldn't have to. Just do it and get paid, it over. If you spent the time organizing the paperwork instead of complaining it would be done. Also not very positive moral for your staff. If for some reason Windsor Council, Not the fire chief feels there is a breach in the agreement, then they should be taking legal action. Problem solved. This foolishness of miss information coming from people that don't have all the facts should stop. If the chief has something to say, it should be to Windsor Council only, and Windsor Council can speak in a professional manner to the media, lawyers and to West Hants. This is causing more problems than necessary.

    • Alicia Wile
      May 20, 2014 - 12:39

      Hi John, unfortunately you are incorrect. There are 3 entities at play here: Windsor Fire Society (of which Chief Burgess is on the Board), Town of Windsor & Municipality of West Hants. Windsor Fire Society provides fire service to the Town and has/is providing service to the Municipality. The Municipality (6-3) decided to severe ties and proceed with their own, non-existent, unplanned, biased service. So, John, dare I say YOU are part of the problem of foolish "miss information coming from people that don't have all the facts"??

    • Greg
      May 20, 2014 - 13:22

      The WFD is a distinct entity separate from the Town of Windsor. The disagreement is between the WFD and West Hants.

    • roger beaton
      May 20, 2014 - 13:30

      With all do respect you are wrong about who is involved in this issue. Windsor town council has nothing to do with this at all. It is between WFD and West Hants council. Windsor would not be involved if West Hants was negotiating a RCMP contract. The town of Windsor does not own the WFD. They have had a contract with the WFD for 132 years.

    • John
      May 20, 2014 - 14:41

      As I said, I believe the Municipality and the BOARD not the 1 chief, should be having a professional discussion not one sided discussions on here. Deal with it in Council not in the paper where people including MYSELF are only getting part of the picture.

    • HA
      May 21, 2014 - 08:15

      John, I don't even know where to begin with your last statement. Is your advice to everyone just to cower over and left others walk all over them? To stay quiet while others are telling half-truths and full lies? Give your head a shake. It's apparent you have some personal gripes with either the entire WFD or individuals involved with the organization. It's a shame this is preventing you from seeing the bigger picture. You're willing to put my family and property at stake because of your personal issues. Look around. There is no silent majority that the warden keeps eluding to. If you use the excuse they're afraid to voice their opinion then just look at the Poll the Hants Journal ran. You can't get much more anonymous then that and the numbers there don't lie. I'm hoping the total number of votes on that particular Poll will be made visible. If you don't like the service you are getting then move, I'll even bring a truck.

  • Malcolm
    May 20, 2014 - 10:36

    Wonder why the Department let cheques go stale-dated and not cash them.

    • here is your answer.
      May 20, 2014 - 19:08

      Hi Malcolm, Here is the answer to your question. I have heard many people ask this before and some obviously dont' know the whole story. If you did some work for me and I owed you lets just say a meaningless number like 1000.00 . Then I wrote you a check for 700.00 . and told you that's all your getting with no reason. Would you cash it right away and swallow some sour grapes. Or would you hold on to the cheque mean while, reminding me that I owed you more. and that you would like a new cheque written with the correct amount. Now back to how it's relevant. Council passed conflicting motions. First they decided to hold back 40,000 a year( I don't have the exact numbers handy) and I quote " until a contract is signed" Then they passed a motion that they would never sign a contract with the Windsor Fire Dept. There is a lot to this story and most of these comments only touch the surface. That's why I whole heartly agree someone other that the parties involved needs to be brought in to settle this dispute.

  • Flamer
    May 19, 2014 - 22:41

    $700,000 is owed since April of 2013? can this be correct? If that is the amount that is being paid for a 'substation' for just over a years service, I think that there really does need to be an audit as to where the money goes, or some form of accounting at least. That's a lot of money.

    • NoOneListensAnyway
      May 20, 2014 - 09:39

      Try reading it again. That's what's owed to WFD for the station in town AND the substation.

  • Annie Rose
    May 19, 2014 - 15:53

    Well congratulations West Hants you finally poked that bear into a rage. I would be more worried about what the people who are losing their service are going to do. Even with their gloves off firefighters have the dignity to remain beyond reproach. Well, those who currently belong to WFD do, I can't speak for the actions of firefighters from other stations. What other agency, volunteer or otherwise, is ever going to trust entering into any agreement with West Hants? If they decide they don't like your face they stop paying their bills, then walk away. So how is it that these people can sever the hands that serve them but not pay the bill! That should have been the first motion those dinosaurs made. Anarchy !!!! See what you have done**. **Sentence modified to comply with web commenting policy

  • veteran firefighter
    May 19, 2014 - 14:31

    Here, here, it is about time.