Caledon two-hatter firefighters found guilty by union
Caledon two-hatter firefighters found guilty by union
June 14, 2017
Caledon Enterprise
Article by: Matthew Strader

Volunteers will have to resign or pay heavy fines, town to appeal

Caledon Two Hatters

Five Caledon volunteer firefighters have been found guilty of misconduct by their union for two hatting. - Danielle Marr/Metroland

Five of Caledon's two-hatter firefighters have been found guilty of violating their constitution for their volunteer fire fighting efforts in town.
And the guilty ruling will now result in an appeal.
Two-hat firefighters, firefighters who work full-time in one community and volunteer for a nominal fee in their home community on their time off, make up a significant part of Caledon’s fire department – the whole force is approximately 70 per cent volunteer.
The experience the two-hat firefighters bring to the volunteer force is invaluable, firefighting voices have said.
But unions that govern them in Ontario charged firefighters for violating their International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) constitution that prohibits two-hatting.
Voices from the union, including Brampton Professional Fire Fighters Association president John Taylor, who charged seven full-time firefighters who volunteer in Caledon, five who faced a tribunal in May, have maintained the activity is a violation of the constitution.
Four full-time Mississauga firefighters faced a similar tribunal earlier this year and had their charges upheld and a set of fines imposed.
The ruling included a $500 monthly fine for the first six months if they did not give up their volunteer position. After six months, the monthly fine was set to increase to $1,000. It would then increase to a monthly amount of $1,500 after a year, and finally up to $2,000 per month should the violation persist after 18 months.
On Wednesday morning, the Caledon Enterprise obtained a copy of the decision on Caledon’s five charged two-hatters, and the results were the same as in Halton Hills.
The local firefighters, according to the trial board, are guilty of the activity of volunteering, and must resign their volunteer post or face suspension and then the increasing fines.
Town CAO Mike Galloway, while not pleased, said there is an appeal mechanism in place, and he feels the town is on solid ground to make one.
“The union has obviously stepped outside of the bounds of their constitution because the constitution says damages from something like this is suspension of union membership, not your job,” said Galloway, who added the constitution does not include imposed fines.
“This is all about increasing union membership and forcing rural municipalities to hire more full-timers when they don’t warrant it because they are well-serviced by volunteers,” he said.
Brampton full-timer and Caledon volunteer Mandy Gould said sitting at home on her hands isn’t an option, but neither is paying fines that could grow to $24,000 a year.
“That’s crazy,” Gould said. The group has 30 days to appeal, so she is waiting for advice and information from counsels. For now, it's status quo. “I’m still going to do what I think is right. I want to serve as a volunteer firefighter like my father did. I don’t think unions should be able to bully people out of positions in the province.”