FCABC Education Summit
Fire Chief Liabilities
John W. Saunders
John is a partner in the law firm of Hicks Morley. He has practiced for over 30 years as a representative of employers in labour and employment law. He specializes in assisting municipalities with regard to their fire departments. John has assisted over thirty different municipalities of various sizes across the country from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan to Toronto. He has acted as chief spokesperson in dozens of rounds of negotiations, presented hundreds of rights and interest arbitrations and sat as an employer nominee on interest arbitration boards.
John has been a key-note speaker at the annual Ontario Fire Chiefs’ Labour Relations Conference since it was started about ten years ago. He has spoken at the National Fire Chiefs’ Conference on many occasions. He has represented municipalities and fire departments at numerous Coroner’s Inquests and Judicial Inquiries in the fire sector.
John has been involved in many of the key labour relations issues as they relate to fire fighters: PTSD, mandatory retirement, 24 hour shifts, post-retirement benefits, mutual and automatic aid agreements, fitness testing, comparability between police officers and firefighters, total compensation analysis and contracting out.
All of the actions of the Fire Chief, the Incident Commander and other officers are under constant scrutiny. If something does not go according to “the plan”, then there is possible civil liability, criminal liability and/or a review through the Coroner’s Inquest, Judicial Inquiry or the Court of Public Opinion. How do Fire Chiefs protect themselves against these possibilities?