May 10, 2018, Renfrew, Ont. - A long-serving fire chief in eastern Ontario says he is challenging a new policy that forces all fire department employees in Renfrew, Ont., to retire by age 60.
Guy Longtin, who was forced Monday to retire as fire chief after town council passed a motion for the policy, says he has hired an employment lawyer to challenge the legality of his termination.
Longtin says in a statement to The Canadian Press that he wants to hold the town and its decision-makers "fully accountable" for their actions.
Renfrew Reeve Peter Emon says the Ontario government passed legislation in 2011 forcing front-line firefighters to retire at age 60, partly because of the hazards of the job.
But he says town council felt the legislation should also be applied to the fire chief, because due to the small size of the town's department, the chief is often at the scene.
Emon says the decision was not based on the physical nature of the job, but the effects of accumulated stress when the fire chief works as an incident commander.
"The duties of an incident commander, over time, weighs heavily on the personnel conducting those, which is similar to the accumulated stress or wear-and-tear on firefighters," he said.
However, Longtin said his termination was based on an "arbitrarily imposed age requirement" for the position.
"In moving forward with this case, it is my intention to speak not only for myself, but for other older workers across the province, who deserve to be judged by the quality of their workplace contributions, not simply by the numbers on their birth certificates," Longtin said.
In a Facebook post earlier this week, Longtin said that over 26 years as fire chief, he fulfilled his duties "in a manner that either met or exceeded the requirements expected of me."
Emon said Capt. Tim Hill has been appointed to the role of acting chief, and the town is proceeding with the recruitment of a new permanent chief.
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