Fire Chief provides notice of resignation effective October 1

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, April 10 2019

Gabriola Fire Chief Rick Jackson has given written notice to the Fire Board that he will step down effective October 1.

He had previously said he would stay on till the end of June.

At the regular meeting of the Gabriola Fire Protection Improvement District Board on Thursday, April 4, Jackson said he has extended his time as fire chief to October 1 due to concerns voiced to him about having a fire chief transition in the middle of fire season.

He said, “Due to concerns about me leaving, I have agreed to move resignation date to October 1. That should take the pressure off what’s become a bit of a hot boiler.”

Fire Trustee Wilf Caron said that the selection committee had been working on the premise of having a new fire chief in place to start on July 1.

“This makes a large adjustment when it is now October 1. 

“I understand your concern, but I also remember you saying that when you did retire, you would be here as an assistant if asked and there could be a place. Why would that change?”

Jackson said there are a number of situations to consider, “with concerns of me leaving during fire season...I thought about it - it’s only a few more months...I have submitted that in writing for October.”

Mark Noyon, Chair of the Fire Board, said the resignation effective October 1 is the first time it has been put in writing.

Trustee John Hudson said he supported the extension. “I’d rather not have a transition, given the fire danger in the province. This takes the pressure off the [replacement] process as well.”

Trustee John Moeller said having Jackson stepping down at a later date, “makes me want to think about when we interview candidates.”

At the March meeting of the Board, they had been considering interviewing applicants to have a new fire chief in place for July.

Chair Noyon said interview particulars would be part of the in-camera session of the Board meeting.

No legal requirement for Improvement Districts to hire externally

During the meeting, the Board was asked by the Sounder if they knew of any requirement for Improvement Districts to have job openings posted externally.

Trustee Paul Champion said he had spoken to representatives in the BC Government who said the decision on whether to post jobs internally or externally was entirely up to the Fire Board.

However, he said, the Board also has a responsibility to be fair, open, and reasonable - and said he had concerns that if the job was not posted externally, the Board could be challenged on whether it had acted in a fair and open manner.

Chair Mark Noyon said the Board would seek more clarity on the question.

On Friday morning, the day after the meeting, representatives from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said, “Improvement Districts have the authority to establish their own Human Resource policies and practices including determining how broadly a job posting is adverted.”

The Ministry added that, even if someone external applied to an internal posting, the decision on whether to accept that application would fall to the HR policies of the Improvement District.