Cornwall Flames Back at Fire Fighters As Budget War Heats Up by Jamie Gilcig MARCH 6, 2015

cao paul fitzpatrickCFN – As I was reading over this press release and mulling over some recent communication I found it odd to come to the reality that former disgraced CAO Paul Fitzpatrick actually communicated more with this media outlet than current CAO Norm Levac.

Mr. Fitzpatrick may have had many faults as CAO, but he wasn’t shy to exchange views or answer his phone or blast a shot over the lines.

Oddly enough one of the contacts for this release below is Mr. Levac who of late has not been responding to councilor’s calls, never mind this media outlet.

Our last exchange was just before Christmas when Mr. Levac called out of the blue to tell me that my phone number was not working.  So I asked him a question on the spot only to be told that he’d get back to me….which he never did.

People like Norm Levac are on the Sunshine list.   The Sunshine list is comprised of those on the public teat that suck more than $100,000 per year.   They, like elected officials, owe a certain accountability to the public and that is generally in the form of answering questions from the media.  It’s part of our job, and media can play a crucial part in the life of a community because of that.

So here below is the City’s press release in response to the goop sent out by Jason Crites (to selected media, he did not send us their release even though we have the largest audience in the community).    Mr. Crites decided to play some hard ball by bringing up allegations of the city failings.    It begs the questions if those failings also include certain fire fighters who may be in violation of the city’s very clear policy regarding conflict of interest and having businesses related to the fire fighting industry….but that’s for an entire other story….

The City of Cornwall would like to respond to some of the commentary that has appeared in local media recently regarding the management and operation of the Cornwall Fire Department.


There have been suggestions made that the fire service is ‘in neglect’ or ‘substandard,’ and that is simply not the case. The Cornwall Fire Department has a well-trained complement of staff and state-of-the-art equipment to build on its proud record of service in the community. At present, the fire department’s average response time for a call is under 4 minutes.


“This is a figure I am extremely proud of,” said Fire Chief Richard McCullough. “Our focus is the safety of the community and our firefighters.”


City officials also want to recognize Fire Chief McCullough for the strong oversight he has provided to the service.


“Both the CAO and I fully support Fire Chief McCullough and the leadership he has brought to the fire department,” said Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy.


With respect to staffing and training levels and fire prevention practices, Fire Chief McCullough has always strived to provide an effective fire service to the community.


“During my time as Fire Chief, I have taken steps internally to try and improve morale among various divisions of the fire service and enhance the lines of communication with the Chief’s office,” said Fire Chief McCullough. “The Fire Fighters Association and its leadership has been invited to participate in numerous initiatives within the service. Despite the criticism of some of the association’s leadership, the association members who form part of our training, fire prevention, suppression and mechanical divisions have done a tremendous job for our community.”


In 2012, in order to improve in the areas of training and prevention, the Fire Chief sought the assistance of the Ontario Fire Marshal to conduct a review. This review was supported by the Fire Fighters Association. The review identified a number of shortcomings, and action has already been taken on a number of those items.


The remaining items have been incorporated into a new Fire Master Plan that is expected to be presented to City Council in the near future. This Master Plan, which was developed with input from both management and the Fire Fighters Association, will provide recommendations on staffing, fire suppression tactics, training and prevention, equipment and resources and much more. The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management is well aware of the City’s efforts to improve the fire service through the Fire Master Plan and it has reviewed a draft of the document.


This Master Plan will provide the City with a long-term plan to build an even more efficient and effective fire service in the years to come. Moving forward, the goal will be to implement and achieve the recommendations set out in the plan as resources become available.


The cost of firefighting is not some new subject.  It would be nice to see Mr. Crites and his confreres come up with solutions rather than trying to intimidate council or influence elections.   There is at the end of the day only so many dollars to dole out.   It’d be a shame to see city services cut so that a certain few fire fighters can practice their side gigs while waiting for calls….

What do you think dear CFN viewers?  You can post your comments below.


  1. If the Cornwall Professional Firefighters Association had issues with the way the fire service is run the way they presented those issues was wrong. The issues should be brought to the city, NOT to a local media outlet.

    Perhaps the solution is the creation of a fire services board as suggested by at least one member of city

    The Cornwall Professional Firefighters Association should provide solutions rather than trying to intimidate city council by showing up with 20 members during fire department budget discussions.

  2. The four minute response time is a recognized standard for all urban fire departments in Ontario. This is primarily the reason for the tiered response systems and why fire departments need to respond to most accident calls. Ambulances not being stationed in these fire halls take longer to respond and cannot get to an incident as quick. Placing ambulances in these stations and cross training firefighters and paramedics could be a solution to staffing and reducing actual fire call responses, but I’m sure the Fire Fighter’s Association wouldn’t like this.

  3. Maybe Rob the Fire Fighters Association wouldn’t like your concept. The association is not the employer the taxpayer is. I have stated in this forum before that the tail is wagging the dog. The taxpayer is paying the bill but our leadership and representatives are not doing their job when they permit the employees to run the show.

    Change to protect the taxpayers interests will not occur until we have leadership pure and simple.

    Tell me, anyone, where is the leadership? Who do you admire, respect and feel is truly representing and defending your contribution to your community?

  4. Cross training a fireman to become a paramedic? Why not cross train to become a nurse or a civil engineer or a detective? Make it sound like its a weekend course to become a paramedic. My sixteen year old daughter has her CPR and AED which pretty much sums up the equivalency of fireman medical knowledge for the most part.

    Seriously, firemen keep putting out those fires; As long as there are old decrepit houses there will be the need. There are countless other personnel available to teach fire prevention like teachers, do fire inspections like building engineers and contractors and provide assistance to paramedics when they need the help like more paramedics. If you or the police or any bystander for that matter is present they get used. In summary, we don’t need to continue to justify this antiquated system. I don’t buy the “yeah you would’t say that in your time of need” mantra because we will always have the fire response; just not as many. Brutal truth is no real scientific studies to back up mortality rate to fireman extrication time. “Golden Hour” – an EMS myth. The science demonstrates proper pre-hospital care makes a difference in statistical data and mortality rates. Brutal truth is when the house is actively engulfed, no firemen are entering until the flames are sufficiently put out which by then is unfortunately too late.

    The time is now to start decreasing the “bleeding” and start hiring a paramedic to do what the citizens pay their taxes.

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