Deputy named acting fire chief
Deputy named acting fire chief
July 31, 2017
The Standard
Karena Walter
St. Catharines Deputy Fire Chief Jeff McCormick is seen in this file photo from his first day on the job at headquarters on Monday June 19, 2017.  St. Catharines council appointed him acting chief through a bylaw Monday night. Bob Tymczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard/Postmedia Network

St. Catharines’ new deputy fire chief will be heading up the service for the foreseeable future.

City council passed a bylaw Monday night to appoint Jeff McCormick as acting fire chief and acting emergency management program co-ordinator.

The move was made because fire Chief Dave Wood has been on a health-related leave of absence for problems with his back since the end of June.

“In order to carry on the functions of the fire department it was necessary to appoint an acting chief,” McCormick said in council chambers after the meeting.

He said the position is for six months, at which time Wood’s condition will be re-evaluated.

The management structure of St. Catharines Fire and Emergency Services has been a whirlwind lately.

It normally has a chief and two deputies.

Former deputy chief Larry Jones retired in April and McCormick filled his role on June 19.

The other deputy chief, Monique Belair, parted ways with the city on June 21 without a public explanation.

Wood took his leave shortly after that due to his back.

McCormick said Platoon Chief Dave Upper has agreed to secondment to one of the deputy chief positions. He’ll be in an acting role for the next six months.

Upper is in charge of suppression and training divisions while McCormick is overseeing the communications and fire prevention for the near future.

That includes the new radio project that the department is introducing.

“With Deputy Chief Upper, it’s an opportunity for him to see whether that’s a role he wants to fulfil on a longer-term basis,” McCormick said, adding the corporation can also evaluate the relationship.

McCormick said the department is looking at steps to fill another deputy chief position while he fills in for the chief.

“We’re in discussions as to how to proceed with that. It would be for a temporary basis,” he said.

McCormick, 53, served with Brantford Fire Department for 30 years, including as chief from 2011 to 2016. He retired from the service to head up a new fire inspection and fire safety education program at Fanshawe College in London but missed being in the fire service.

He applied to St. Catharines when the deputy chief position was posted.