Ontario town's fire chief told he's too old for the job at age 61
Published Tuesday, May 8, 2018 6:59PM EDT
A 61-year-old fire chief in the town of Renfrew, Ont., has been let go after town council passed a policy that meant he would be too old for the job.
Renfrew council passed a bylaw that forced all firefighters in the town -- including Fire Chief Guy Longtin -- to retire by the age of 60.
"My employment was not terminated for cause, or for any other reason other than I am now older than the town's newly created policy on mandatory retirement age for their fire chief,” Longtin said in a Facebook post.
"Up until the minute that I was advised of this decision, I was fulfilling my duties in a manner that either met or exceeded the requirements expected of me."
Longtin had been serving as the Renfrew fire chief since 1992 and has hired a lawyer to fight for his job back.
About seven years ago, the Ontario government passed a legislation forcing salaried frontline firefighters to retire at age 60, in part due to the hazards associated with the job.
Renfrew town council recently ruled the legislation should also be applied to its fire chief because, due to the small size of their fire department, the chief would also likely be thrust into the frontline when a fire erupts.
“It's not the physical nature of the job, it's the stress, and the associated long-term stress of the position,” Peter Emon, the reeve for the Town of Renfrew, told CTV Ottawa.
“In a lot of instances, either in practice or by expectation (and) position description, they’re active firefighters by managing a scene.”
In speaking to CTV Ottawa over the phone, Longtin said his role does not involve fighting active fires.
Some Renfrew residents are questioning council’s decision to force Longtin out of a job.
“As long as he's physically and mentally fit, I don't see there being an issue,” one resident said. “That's ageism as far as I'm concerned.”
The town has appointed an acting fire chief and hopes to permanently fill the position by September.
With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Claudia Cautillo