Orangeville officially hires eight new full-time firefighters

June 21, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

The Town of Orangeville has hired the eight new full-time firefighters that local Fire Chief Ron Morden has stated were needed to bring the department’s overnight response times up to provincial standards.

News broke on Tuesday that the Town had extended offers to eight individuals following an intensive two-month recruitment process. In total, the Town received 867 applications from across the country.

The potential hiring of additional firefighters has been a contentious issue throughout much of this current term of Council. Back in 2015, Council first learned that overnight fire response times were well in excess of provincial standards, stretching to an average of 13 minutes – nine minutes longer than the average response time during the day. At that time, the overnight shift was covered solely by volunteer firefighters, while the daytime shift boasted full-time firefighters.

Chief Morden had lobbied for Council to hire additional firefighting staff ahead of both the 2017 and 2018 municipal budget debates. After initially denying the request for a second successive year in November, Council had a change of heart. Deputy Mayor Warren Maycock was the swing vote in the 4-3 decision, siding with Councillors Gail Campbell, Scott Wilson and Sylvia Bradley in approving the new hires at a cost of approximately $800,000 in 2018.

The new staff started their positions on Friday (June 15) and are currently undergoing two weeks of training. The department will now operate with four platoons ensuring Orangeville is covered by full-time firefighters 24 hours a day. Each platoon will boast a captain and four full-time firefighters. In total, the local service now consists of 20 full-time firefighters, a chief, a deputy chief, a training officer, fire prevention staff and an administrative assistant. In this year’s the budget, the fire department was slated to cost taxpayers just over $4 million.

Despite these hires, the department will still rely heavily on its group of “highly skilled” volunteers, says Chief Morden.

“Orangeville has been a composite department since 2003 and will continue to be a composite department. We will be utilizing volunteer firefighters for years to come,” Chief Morden said. “Our volunteer firefighters are dedicated, highly trained and skilled.”

There was some concern amongst those volunteers that the hiring of eight new firefighters would severely impact their hours. While Chief Morden admitted volunteer hours would decrease as a result of the hires, he stressed that volunteer units would still be heavily relied upon moving forward.

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