Minden Hills fire chief resigns
By Chad Ingram
Published Sept. 18, 2017
Minden Hills fire chief Doug Schell is resigning.
Schell gave notice to the township last Friday that he will leave his post Oct. 6.
A member of Minden's volunteer fire department for nearly 30 years, Schell became its first paid, full-time chief in 2003.
He told the paper he is ready for a change.
“It's a new career opportunity for me,” Schell said of his new job as manager of environmental services and plant operations for Haliburton Highlands Health Services.
He said the role draws on some of his previous experience, including home inspections and emergency planning.
“After 28 years, I've really enjoyed helping the community out,” Schell said. However, he said being on call 24/7 can also take its toll. He will not be continuing on with the department.
“I'm still going to be helping the community out, just in a different way,” he said.
Schell paid tribute to the members of the department.
“I have full confidence in the personnel of the fire department, as it is,” he said.
Reeve Brent Devolin wished Schell well in his new career.
“I'm certainly, on a personal level, saddened, but thankful for the 28 years he's put in in Minden Hills,” Devolin told the paper. “For Doug and his family, I'm very happy for them.”
The reeve said ever-increasing demands on municipal politicians and staffers can be stressful.
“Those are pretty hot seats to sit in,” he said.
As for what will happen next within the fire department, Devolin pointed out the township has a deputy-chief and a training officer, as well as a building task force for the new Minden Hills fire hall, currently under construction along Highway 35.
“On all those levels, we're in pretty good shape,” Devolin said. “I don't think we're in a position of weakness.”
Whether the township will put out a call for a new fire chief, hire someone from within, etc., is a decision that council will make in the future.
“In the coming weeks and months, we'll have those discussions,” Devolin said.
Schell's resignation comes just weeks after Minden Hills councillors approved a performance appraisal policy for the township's volunteer firefighters, which will see them evaluated every two years by the fire chief.
Council first discussed the concept in June, with members disagreeing about the appropriateness of initiating performance reviews for firefighters.
At a June 8 committee-of-the-whole
meeting, at the request of council, Schell had drawn up a report on conducting
performance reviews for firefighters.
It was Schell’s recommendation at the time that council not proceed with such a process.
“Personally, I don’t see the benefit of this,” Schell told councillors. “They do give up a lot for the benefit of the community. It’s just adding more stress to the firefighters.”
Council approved the appraisal framework during an Aug. 31 meeting, after some changes to the language in the policy were made, including the addition of a “wellness check” dealing with employee job satisfaction, growth, participation, etc.