C-K goes abroad for assistant fire chief

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Chatham-Kent’s newest assistant fire chief won’t be coming from around the corner, or even anywhere in Canada, and that has at least one council member asking questions.

The Chatham Voice has learned Chatham-Kent has hired Chris Case, a member of the fire service in the municipality of Merseyside, England.

Chatham Coun. Michael Bondy said he’s not sure why the municipality couldn’t find a qualified candidate in Canada.

“He’s not a pediatric neurosurgeon. This guy is an elevated firefighter,” he said. “If we’re going to pay this guy a lot of money, we should be paying someone local.

“It would be like hiring a Public Works guy from India because he really grades roads well.”

Chatham-Kent CAO Don Shropshire said he’s happy with the choice made by the municipality’s selection team.

“Eight candidates were interviewed, including four internal applicants,” he said. “The committee was impressed by Chris’ skill set. We’re moving our focus to fire prevention as opposed to the more traditional firefighting role, and he topped the list of skills and experience.”

Shropshire said there were 23 applicants, and the job was advertised in accordance with municipal policies.

“We can’t control who applies for any job,” he said. “There were no special favours and we didn’t recruit anyone.”

He said Case had to convince federal immigration authorities that his skill set was strong enough that he wasn’t taking a job that could have been filled by a candidate from Canada.

“I’m glad that someone who has the ability to take his talent anywhere in the world has chosen to live in Chatham-Kent,” Shropshire said.

He said Case’s moving expenses will be within municipal standards, with any additional expenses being paid by him personally.

Bondy expressed concern about why the fire department doesn’t have qualified internal candidates ready to move up.

“I’m not confident in the department’s succession planning if we have no one who can step in when we have a vacancy,” he said. “Going to England seems a stretch.”

Shropshire said Fire and Paramedic Chief Ken Stuebing met with all internal candidates after the process to discuss career development.

The vacancy was created when deputy chief Rick Arnell took a position in Essex County in February.

Although the department hasn’t issued any release regarding Case’s hire, Bondy said he has had several calls from taxpayers concerned with the move.

“When we hired our chief, we didn’t hire locally; now we’re heading out of the country,” Bondy said, as Stuebing came from Manitoba. “We talk about buying locally; why can’t we hire locally. It’s a hard sell to tell me no one was qualified. I have no doubt he (Case) has qualifications, but there’s a lot of discontent that another high-priced job is given to someone so far away.”

The appointment of Case will mean Chatham-Kent has four assistant fire chiefs, Ric Scharf, Bob Davidson, and Alan DeVillaer, although DeVillaer’s position involves the paramedic arm of the department.

Shropshire said Chatham-Kent has 460 firefighters and by “any measure” the department is a “lean operation.”

Of that number, 350 are volunteers located in 16 departments across the municipality, each with their own volunteer chief and deputy chief.

Figures from the departments website indicate 62 “career personnel” under operations.

In addition to the chief and deputy chiefs, the department has seven fire captains, four senior fire captains, two fire inspectors and one fire prevention officer.

14 COMMENTS

  1. If I was a firefighter from ChathamKent or anywhere from across Canada I would be telling the Chatham Fire Chief/ our Chatham Mayor and his city council to 'KISS MY LADDER' What a insult to our finest First Responders.

  2. I thought I had seen everything this city could screw up the Bradley centre the Capital the train to know where but they fooled me hiring an assistant fire chief from England.Is there a way to impeach the whole council and mayor plus fire all the staff at city hall.It is so bad that when you are out of town you don't want to admit where you live.

  3. Once again we see how this game is played out in CK. We see hundreds upon hundreds of our youth moving out of our municipality, because of the lack of opportunity here….and yet our crack selection committee, hires an unknown, instead of someone, invested in our community.

  4. I wonder if we had 25 consultants discuss this job opening before we picked the Assistant Fire Chief. It sure seems like that kind of decision making. If there were no qualified applicates from Canada maybe we should be looking at why no one from Canada wants to come to Chatham Kent.

  5. William Kelle are credentials from other countries are they even legit here or should not be. skilled trades such as Drs, Lawyers etc are all bound by College regulations in Canada. How does someone simply migrate into this position without Canadian Certification I ask and who is paying for his transit and expenses to Chathamkent…..forgot or remind me the Chathamkent tax payers we have lots of money for Hope and Shropshire to visit… that Communist state China and Britain as well

  6. Council found out through the initial media reports. They'll be discussing it in camera for the first time Monday evening. Municipal administration is the one that left council with egg on their faces this time. Should have at least informed council via email before it got leaked to the media. Of course that would imply anyone in administration is actually in touch with the realities of life in Chatham-Kent for those suckling at the municipal teat.

  7. Best thing that has happened to CKFD in a LONG time. He didn’t bring any of the baggage that comes with being a former OPFFA/IAFF union firefighter and he’s actually got common sense. His management style is not confrontational unlike many other managers at CK. And the front line firefighters actually like him. What a refreshing change.

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