The Dryden Firefighter dispute is advancing. In a media release issued morning by Dryden Firefighter Association Negotiating Chair Darren Trist, he explains further.
“Dryden city council votes against public town hall meeting and all future talks with firefighters.
It seems the city is going to replace us. I have no idea how or with what money. I presented at last nights council and outlined costs, their current lack of service and a timeline of events. Councillors Beyak, Carlucci and Mayor Wilson all had pre written rebuttals as their mind was already made up. It didn’t matter what I had to say. My presentation is attached
DFFA Negotiating Chair
For those of you may not know me, my name is Darren Trist and I currently represent the Dryden Fire Fighters Association during this time of negotiation. First off, last week after council I made some inappropriate comments to the media directed at Councillor Carlucci and Councillor McKinnon. Being angry is no excuse for the terms I used and it is certainly not appropriate given the men and women I represent. I am a man that can admit when I made mistake. John, I have known you over 10 years and Marty for over 30, I hope you can accept that I am indeed sorry for the comments made.
I now need to make some things matter of public record. The following is a timeline of events. Please note the amount of time that goes until our action was taken and afterward.
November 13, 2017 – Councillor MacKinnon brought the subject of firehall up in open council
November 20, 2017 – New Alcohol Policy passed
January 12, 2018 – Dryden Firefighters Association (DFFA) delegation to council. Council agreed to negotiate
February 1 – Date ofthe first letter sent by CAO, all alcohol removed by Feb.8. There has been no official communication with council.
February 7 – DFFA responded to CAO and all of Council that they were negotiating with council and policy does not apply until negotiations are complete.
February 9 – the Second letter from CAO, new deadline noon, February 10, everyone else had a deadline to sign off by February 22
February 10 – CAO, Fire Chief and four policemen come tothe fire hall to inspect DFFA room. Association room is found to be in full compliance with the new policy. Three Firefighters fired on the spot overall a verbal argument in a non-workplace off duty.
February 11 – Letter from DFFA to all of Council stating if firefighters were not re-instated there would be a suspension of service.
February 22 – Fire service suspended by DFFA as members remain terminated. There has been no communication with council
February 27 – First official meeting between members of Council and Fire Fighters Association Representatives, agreement reached to reinstate dismissed fireman.
February 28 – City administration changes the terms agreed upon the night before
March 2 – City administration takes 2 more days and changes the terms of the reinstatement yet again. DFFA respond that suspension of service continues until all issues have been resolved due to the city saying one thing and doing another. DFFA loses all trust for the “word” of city officials. DFFA sends a letter to all council asking for new meetings.
March 6 – Third letter from the CAO, stating sign off by March 9 or be fired. Up until this time the DFFA had requested all members and their families refrain from posting on social media in the hopes of negotiating with the City. After receiving the “sign or you’re fired” letter, the gloves came off and fire fighters started defending themselves and sharing information with the public
March 8 – Second meeting date with the City and DFFA. City did not show up, claiming they don’t know who to talk to.
March 9 morning – Out of 36 firefighters, 3 sign, the rest send back the form unsigned but refuse to abandon their post. DFFA reaches out to all councillors for new meetings – anytime anywhere with anyone.
March 9 afternoon – Councillor Nick Beyak makes headlines across NW Ontario – it’s all about the booze, we have hired four firefighters, we should all be ashamed of ourselves
March 12 – Committee of the Whole – Councillor Trist puts forward a motion to discuss having a Town Hall meeting to resolve the issue at the next Council Meeting. Passed
Councillor Valley puts forward a motion to discuss leasing the Association room to DFFA at the next Council Meeting. Councillor Trist cannot second the motion because of conflict of interest. Councillor MacKinnon is the Chair and cannot second a motion. Councillor Carlucci refuses to second the motion. The motion was only to put it on the agenda for discussion, it dies on the floor.
March 19 – Since Feb 27 there has been no official communication with council
I also need to make the following facts public record.
This council and Dryden’s city administration has informed the public that is has quote “normal coverage” along with “consistent fire coverage”. I am now going to outline exactly what you have. You have 3 members out of 36 that have said they would show up if available from hall 1. You have 13 hall 2 members that are officially in service, but the number is much lower than that. There are members that are in silent protest, there are members that work shift work and there are members that are unavailable during the normal work day. At any given call you would be lucky to get 4 and have one truck roll in about 20 min after page is received. Hall 2 was always designed to supplement the equipment and manpower supplied by hall one. Hall one members attend all district 2 calls, outnumbering them on scene.
Oxdrift, Wabigoon and Machin. These halls have dedicated men and women but there numbers are low. They cannot send more than 3 or 4 members and one piece of apparatus because if they send any more, their communities would be left unprotected. They are 30 min to an hour before they arrive on scene.
Your 4 professional firefighters. These young men are fresh out of recruit class and lack the experience to fight a fully engulfed blaze. These 4 men arriving on scene in the same truck to a structure fire is beyond negligent, its flat out dangerous.
So immediately you have 4 firefighters showing up, another 4 in 30 minutes and another 8-12 in an hour. What is missing is our most powerful and expensive piece of equipment, Quint 24 our ladder truck, there is no one left to man it. Also rescue 25 with auto extrication tools on board – you have no trained members left for these tools.
You have no experience in industrial fire suppression at Domtar
You have no trained hazmat team
You have no auto extrication team
Dryden Fire Service is currently in violation of city bylaws, OFM recommendations, NFPA 1720 on staffing of volunteer departments and numerous standard operating guidelines within Dryden Fire Service itself. Without hall 1 this city’s administration has not only put Dryden at risk, but the Former township of Barclay, Wabigoon, Oxdrift and Machin. Dryden has no mutual aid we can send them because there is not enough available people.
This coverage is not normal coverage. This coverage is not consistent fire coverage. I know I am not telling you anything you don’t already know, but now when, not if, when this current plan fails and Dryden is on the hook, you will not be able to say you were not informed.
THE COST. The fire chief would love his own full time department because his wages would have to be 14% higher than his highest paid fire fighter. They start at 65 thousand but once they reach first class Firefighter their salary starts at over 96 thousand dollars each. So how many full time people would it take 8, 10 or 16. Their union will decide that based on how many volunteers you have remaining, and I can tell you that number is not many. So the Chief says he will recruit, I have been a part of three recruit classes and they average 10 people each with three years in between classes. That’s 0.001% of Dryden’s population that was willing to do this before we have got into this mess, do you really think people are now clamouring to sign up? The tax payers are currently paying for the 4 new fire fighters, the city has now rented them a house, furnishes it for them, pays for every meal, and now there is three more coming so these current guys can get some time off. Where is this money coming from?
For every 1% the city raises taxes they receive roughly $120K in revenue. So how high do taxes have to get to pay for this new department 10%, 15% or 20%?
The fire chief along with city administration has systematically targeted us, tried to divide us and lied to us. They have been lying to you too. You will either be known as the city council that destroyed the highest functioning volunteer fire department in northwestern Ontario, or you can be the one that saves it before it’s too late. The rest of the province is watching this case right now, because volunteer fire fighters out number full timers by 2 to 1and it will set precedence on how we are treated. Believe me fire chiefs, union reps and concerned fire fighters from all over Ontario are watching what happens in Dryden.
You seem to think this decision to withhold service was an easy one for us. We know better than anyone what risk the public is at. These are our neighbours, coworkers, friends and our own families. To say we reached this decision over a beer fridge is beyond insulting and to us it’s just one more piece of evidence of how much you take us for granted.
Many things need to change going forward so this can never happen again, but we need you to come to the table. We will meet with however many people you want, whenever you want. One thing we will not do is return to our unsafe work environment as it stands today. We need city administration that works with us, not against us. We need a Fire Chief that goes to war with us, not against us. Let’s sit down face to face and discuss it and come up with real solutions before a tragedy occurs, which is inevitable. Thank you for your time, I am open to any questions you may have.”
Furthermore in an email to TRCCTB, Trist mentions “Dryden city council votes against public town hall meeting and all future talks with firefighters.“
Citizen journalist born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I like pizza and reporting on concerning events that are in my home region, or that impact it. You can read more by clicking here.