Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
Letter to the editor...Fire chief rebuts points raised by reader about OMERS
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 27 Jan 2006, p. 8

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Dear editor, On behalf of the Halton Hills Fire Protection and Prevention Services I wish to clarify points in respect to a Jan. 18 letter to the editor. First and foremost please be clear the author of the letter, Steven Buckingham, is not a firefighter in Halton Hills and does not speak on behalf of my staff. I respect Mr. Buckingham's right to express his opinion regarding OMERS and do not wish to enter a debate about the merits of the changes proposed. I do wish to clarify that under the existing OMERS plan police officers and career fire fighters can retire five years earlier than other municipal employees in the plan. Mr. Buckingham's statement "we would like the ability to retire earlier at full pension" may be interpreted to suggest there currently is no difference in the retirement age for firefighters. That is just not the case. I wish to also make it clear that I take exception to Mr. Buckingham's comment "the Town of Halton Hills' track record of failing to properly fund municipal services (especially essential services such as fire protection)". In fact, I can list some of the significant achievements in the area of fire protection services. In less than five years council has implemented our Fire Services Master Plan (the first in the history of the Town), approved funding for construction of a new headquarters station and satellite station in the Georgetown urban area, increased the number of full-time staff, approved hiring of additional part-time staff, approved funding to purchase a new aerial, heavy rescue, two tankers, four squads, and four support vehicles. As well council funded our Community Safety Guide, creation of a public information kiosk at the mall and funded other fire prevention/public education initiatives. Council also supported implementation of wage and benefit packages for our staff that are competitive 95 with any fire service in the GTA. I now respect Mr. Buckingham's right to his opinion but it is certainly not one shared by the staff of Halton Hills Fire Services. I have the good fortune to work with an incredible Fire Service staff that is very committed to the wellbeing of this community. The survey of our citizens conducted late last year rated their level of satisfaction with fire fighting response service as number one, fire safety education fourth and fire prevention fifth among the 27 services surveyed. Those are excellent numbers and we are proud to have achieved that level of satisfaction among those we serve. To the citizens of our community, our sincere thanks for your support and for ranking all our services in the top-five of customer satisfaction for services provided by the Town. We could not have achieved this without your support and the support of our mayor and town council. R. Meads, Director/Fire Chief Was Fire Protection & Prevention Services

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27 Jan 2006
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Buckingham, Steven ; Meads, R
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Letter to the editor...Fire chief rebuts points raised by reader about OMERS