An item contained in the minutes of the Champlain Township Fire Liaison Committee included an admonishment of sorts to Champlain’s two fire chiefs.

The minutes report that Champlain Mayor Gary Barton explained to the Fire Liaison Committee that a letter sent by L’Orignal Fire Chief Richard Sincennes to Township CAO Paula Knudsen complained that the Vankleek Hill Volunteer Fire Department was slow to respond when asked asked by dispatch to send additional equipment to help clear smoke at a seniors’ residence.

According to Barton, the letter expresses  Sincennes’ frustration that when asked for back-up, Mr. Martin (Vankleek Hill’s fire chief) did not take it seriously and advised his firefighters not to use their flashing lights and sirens en route to the scene. According to the minutes, “Upon questioning, Mr. Pépin acknowledged that the residents were evacuated and that the firefighters were all wearing their SCBAs (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus) thereby establishing that nobody was in any real danger. Mr. Martin explained that dispatch called him on his cellular phone and did not send out a general page to the firefighters. After calling a few firefighters without success, Mr. Martin asked dispatch to send out a general call in order to have the equipment delivered to the scene.”

The minutes record the mayor saying that the incident has been “blown out of proportion” and that he, along with Mrs. Knudsen, will be meeting Richard Sincennes to further discuss this incident.

The minutes also state, “The CAO/Treasurer added that this situation perpetuates the Vankleek Hill/L’Orignal rivalry and advises the committee that she has spoken to both the Fire Chiefs that as part of the Township’s Management Team, they are to show the example and certainly not encourage the rivalry. This message is to be circulated to the other officers in the fire departments as well as to firefighters.”

In other fire department news, the Vankleek Hill department has purchased a Coinmatic commercial washing machine to wash bunker suits at a cost of $9,680, thanks to fundraising efforts undertaken by the Vankleek Hill Firemen’s Association.

Firefighter remuneration has been increased for firefighters to $25.07 per hour for hours spent in-class only, excluding meal periods and travelling. Meal expenses have been increased to $25 per meal with a provided receipt.