Town of Renfrew sticks to mandatory retirement age for fire chief

Town of Renfrew sticks to mandatory retirement age for fire chief
Renfrew Mercury

The town is not backing down in its response to former fire Chief Guy Longtin's demands.

On Monday, May 14 at 11:37 a.m. the Town of Renfrew issued a news release in response to Longtin’s demands, which included having his job reinstated and the resignation of Mayor Don Eady.

Longtin was forced into retirement on Monday, May 7, following a council decision to put a policy in place requiring mandatory retirement at the age of the 60 for the town fire chief.

Longtin, who is 61, responded May 10 with a letter from his lawyer asking for his job back, for the mayor to resign and for the town to issue a written apology. If the town fails to meet the demands, said the letter, the former chief plans to seek $1.7 million to make up for damages, wages and pension losses. In his claim, Longtin accuses the mayor of having a personal vendetta over a harassment complaint the chief filed against Eady.

“In keeping with the Town’s policy, individuals who perform incident command duties are mandatorily retired at age 60, at which time, they retire to an unreduced pension,” reads the town's statement. “Given that Mr. Guy Longtin has threatened litigation, the Town is therefore not at liberty to further comment at this time.”

The release says the “policy was issued in good faith and reinforces the Town’s commitment to put the safety of the public before an individual employee or resident.”

According to the town the decision to standardize the age of retirement for individuals who perform incident command duties is based on law and notes a 2008 Ontario Human Rights Tribunal case that incident command can carry the same risks as regular fighters even though it doesn’t involve climbing ladders and running into burning buildings.

Further to that the Superior Court of Justice has recognized that mandatory retirement at age 60 is reasonably necessary to ensure the health and safety of individuals who attend working fires, manage fire crews at the scene and otherwise direct operations at a fire.

“These duties are known as incident command duties. Moreover, platoon chiefs who perform incident command duties can also be subject to mandatory retirement — as is the policy in other municipalities,” continues the statement. “Platoon chiefs assume similar responsibilities and duties as those carried out by the fire chief of the Town of Renfrew. As a smaller fire department, incident command duties are an integral part of the fire chief’s responsibilities.”

Longtin is waiting to speak to his lawyer before he issues a statement.

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