Nine managers in Halifax Fire Services were laid off on Monday and their positions eliminated.
Coun. Steve Streatch said it will mean $1 million in savings and constitute a “realignment” of staff within the fire service giving greater support to rural and urban fire services.
“These are folks who have given many years of service but the chief and council was looking for efficiencies and ways to better serve the public and redistribute our resources,” the councillor for Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Valley said.
Chief Administrative Officer Richard Butts encouraged the new chief, Doug Trussler, to make changes, Streatch said. Trussler took the chief’s chair after a retirement last winter.
“He understood clearly there were issues in the fire service, not the least of which was the apparent ‘top heaviness,” Streatch said.
Council has been facing tough budgets in several departments in the past few years and creating efficiencies like this should be welcome, he added. All departments are being examined.
“I think the changes brought forward by the chief (Monday) will go a long way in creating a better financial situation as well as greater accountability and protection for the communities that we serve.” – Coun. Steve Streatch
Staff will also be shuffled out of one of the headquarters at Alderney Gate and into these communities to provide better service and a more on-the-ground component for smaller departments. While there won’t be any additional hires, the money will go into the HRM coffers to provide greater service, Streatch said.
“We’re hopeful as well that this not only serves the paid department but will also attraction and retention of volunteers. It has a multi-level effect and at the same time, saving that $1 million.”
And Trussler isn’t done yet. Streatch said there could be other changes coming to the fire service, including focusing on attraction and retention of volunteers, better support for smaller fire halls specifically in Fall River and Eastern Shore.
“There will be greater voices for those communities at the local level and input on local decision than there has been for many years, so I welcome it personally as a representative in those areas,” Streatch said.