Sparling resignation from FDNH puts North Huron on hunt for new chief - Jan. 26, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
North Huron Township Council will be seeking assistance in hiring a director of emergency services to replacing outgoing Fire Department of North Huron Chief David Sparling.
After Sparling submitted his resignation last week, Chief Administrative Officer Sharon Chambers prepared a report for council’s Jan. 23 meeting suggesting that the negotiated method be used to hire a consultant to assist with the search for a new chief. Council, however, felt such an important task should not be left to a single individual.
“David has suggested that Tony Mintoff assist with the search,” Chambers said, pointing out that Mintoff was used to fill the position the last two times North Huron needed a new fire chief.
While Councillor Brock Vodden espoused Mintoff’s work and said he was fine with hiring him for such a time-sensitive issue, with Sparling ceasing his full-time involvement with the department in mid-February, other councillors wanted more options.
“I’m in favour of making the motion to find support for the township, but I would like to see three quotes for the recruitment background,” Councillor Bill Knott said. “This is a very critical area and I’m not ready to jump in with any gentleman I’m not familiar with.”
Before council could proceed, however, there was a strong push from several members to lay out exactly what the municipality was searching for.
Sparling has been the principal of the Emergency Services Training Centre (ESTC) on top of his responsibilities with the fire department and the workload was a major factor in his decision to retire. Sparling said he would not suggest maintaining that status quo.
Chambers said there are issues around the ESTC for council to work out before looking to hire someone to lead it.
“I think you have some big decisions with respect to the ESTC,” she said. “I don’t think those decisions are going to happen in short order.”
Chambers said the township had received a report “some time ago” from KPMG, a consulting firm, focused on operation of the ESTC. The report was in draft format and included three different options for council to consider.
“One of those options is the status quo which David, [Director of Finance Donna White] and myself agree isn’t viable,” she said. “There are two options left, but those options have not been explored in detail by KPMG.”
Chambers said whatever council decides in regards to the ESTC, there will need to be research done before any action can be taken.
In an interview with The Citizen after the meeting, Chambers elaborated on the two options, saying one was to invest in the centre to make it a viable business entity and the other was to consider more conservative operations for the centre. She also said the report was in draft form because comments from the township were being considered to be sent back to KPMG for the final document.
Councillor Trevor Seip said that, based on the timeline and the fact that the KPMG report wouldn’t be presented until February, he felt the timeline might be too tight to find a person to fill both positions.
Vodden continued to push for Mintoff, saying his input into the previous selection processes was invaluable, to which Seip replied using the same person for a job over and over precludes making new relationships.
Knott made a motion to have a request for proposals sent out for the consulting position, however, he was told that would extend the timeline to the point that the municipality may not have a chief in place by the time Sparling left. He amended his motion to have quotes sought by staff after a hiring process had been finalized, which is a less time-consuming practice.
Council passed the motion with Vodden in opposition. More information on the process will be made available once the quotes are received.