Former Sudbury CAO's firefighter safety claims disputed by city officials
Former interim CAO Bob Johnston says city ignoring rising number of firefighter injuries, sick time claims
Sudbury's fire department and the firefighter's union do not agree with the city's former top bureaucrat's claim that firefighters face unsafe work conditions.
Bob Johnston has declined to speak with CBC News, but in other media reports, he said the final straw in his time at the city was arguing with Mayor Brian Bigger over the safety of firefighters.
He claimed that Bigger and others at the city are ignoring a rising number of injuries and sick leave claims in the fire department.
But it's difficult to find someone who agrees with Johnston on that.
Mayor Bigger told CBC News it isn't true.
"I would never tell anybody to ignore health and safety concerns."
Fire and paramedic chief Trevor Bain said no employees told him they have any worries about staying safe on the job.
"If it were a concern to them, I would know about it. There's been absolutely discussion about safety."
The Sudbury Professional Firefighters Association said the same thing.
President Rob Hyndman says he was surprised by Johnston's claims, and wonders what would motivate him to go to the media, instead of raising them with the union.
"For us, it seems to be a little bit more of a sour grapes issue."
Hyndman said he suspects Johnston is referring to extra paperwork firefighters now have to file whenever they become exposed to cancer-causing toxins while fighting a fire.
He also said that overtime costs have been up in recent years, but said that is due to unfilled vacancies in the fire department.
Hyndman noted that, if the union had those types of concerns, the bargaining table is the place to raise them.
"Resorting to this type of behaviour in the media doesn't normally bode well for that process."
Hyndman added the city and its 100 full-time firefighters are in the midst of negotiations for a new collective agreement.